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“The technology pilot at Karmøy has the potential of becoming the world’s most energy-efficient production line for aluminium. We are pleased that Enova sees how important this effort is for Norwegian industry and for Hydro, and that they are supporting the project,” says Hydro President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg.

The pilot plant is planned to have a capacity of 70,000 tonnes of aluminium per year, and could begin production in 2017, at the earliest. The project is projected to cost NOK 3.6 billion, of which NOK 1.5 billion comes as support from Enova.

“We have been in an application process with Enova over the past year. Hydro’s goal is to realize a groundbreaking new technology that can reduce energy consumption and emissions from Norwegian industry. The support from Enova makes it possible to continue to put all the elements in place before potentially making a final decision on the project and starting construction,” Brandtzæg says.

Enova will send its decision to ESA for approval. Other conditions that must be in place before Hydro can make an investment decision include that the state power grid company Statnett can ensure that the regional grid can support the industrial growth at Karmøy and planned electrification of offshore energy installations. The company must also be able to secure sufficient electricity at competitive prices. In addition, market conditions for aluminium must indicate a satisfactory profitability outlook.

Hydro’s technology center in Årdal, Norway, is a global leader in developing new and more energy-efficient electrolysis cell technology. It is this technology that Hydro wishes to test in the pilot plant. Innovation Norway provided NOK 22.5 million in support to Hydro’s technology development programme for the pilot, which has made it possible to maintain momentum in the development of the technology.

“The work on the pilot plant at Karmøy and the support from Enova underlines our long-term belief that Norway is a good location for aluminium production, where we base our production on renewable energy in the form of hydropower and can develop aluminium technology and industry production in close cooperation,” says Brandtzæg.

Thus, Karmøy could be able to host the world’s most energy-efficient aluminium production, at the earliest in 2017. The pilot plant would employ around 50 people, when in operation.