EGU24-4042, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Importance of Silicon Metal on the Green Transition and the Role of Northern Countries in the Silicon Metal Market

Ozge Akyıldız
Ozge Akyıldız
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Dep. of Geoscience and Petroleum, Trondheim, Norway,

With the green transition in Europe from fossil fuels to renewable energy, it will significantly change the demand for raw materials. The European Union’s new growth strategy focuses on sustainability. While doing so, the intent is to reduce the dependency on non-EU countries regarding the raw materials supply. Access to raw materials has been questioned by the European Commission for twenty years as it is foreseen as new “oil and gas”. The transition requires using carbon-free energy resources and electric vehicles which leads to a great need for raw materials that are used in the production of wind turbines, solar panels and batteries, etc. However, Europe is mostly dependent on non-EU countries which poses a risk of supply chain disruptions, as witnessed in the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

In this study, silicon (Si) metal, one of the critical raw materials having high economic value, will be investigated in terms of its usage, substitution, supply, demand, and future strategies. Si metal is used in aluminum alloys, electronic, chemical, and photovoltaic applications. Green transition and autonomy in the mineral supply chain in Europe both require upscaling mining and supply from secondary materials/recycling of critical raw materials. However, there is almost no recycling of Si metal since it is mostly dispersive in metallic alloys and chemical applications. Thus, mining should be considered as the main activity for the security and sustainability of the Si metal supply chain. This implies that Europe will need to overcome several disadvantages such as no sufficient exploration of resources, public opposition to mining and complex permitting procedures, since it is not given the priority to produce their raw materials. Considering the disadvantages, it is estimated that the upscaling of the mining activities will take 10 to 15 years.

Today, China controls 76% of the Si metal global supply which increased by 10% since 2020 and USA shares 8 %, Brazil 7 % Norway 6 % of global production. Norway shares about 50% of the Si metal produced in Europe and there are high-purity quartz deposits distributed across the country. Furthermore, Norway possesses renewable and cheaper electricity, which is typically the most costly element in producing metals, in addition to its natural resources. The availability of affordable power will most likely become more crucial in the future as energy sources shift from hydrocarbons to green energy sources. Finland is assumed to have a high-quality reserve, while the exact quantities are unknown. In Greenland, although the purity is unknown, the reserves are thought to be substantial. Sweden is also known to have potential reserves of high-quality quartz. As a result, this study will elaborate on the potential leading role of northern countries in meeting Europe's Si metal needs in the path of green transition.

How to cite: Akyıldız, O.: The Importance of Silicon Metal on the Green Transition and the Role of Northern Countries in the Silicon Metal Market, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-4042,, 2024.

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