We renewable energy advocates love our silicon solar cells, but they come at a price: the process of making silicon generates massive amounts of heat and is a great, big electricity hog.
“Quartz rocks placed in electric-arc furnaces exude oxygen as superheated gas, leaving molten silicon. Just venting all that heat without setting something afire is a concern.” — Jon Van, Chicago Tribune
Now a company has found a way to make money capturing and using that heat, to make steam to run electrical generators. Illinois company Recycled Energy Development LLC, or RED, announced it has closed a deal with West Virginia Alloys, a silicon making subsidiary of Globe Metallurgical, Inc. The deal allows West Virginia Alloys to lock in a price for its electricity for 25 years; since that’s their largest cost of doing business, they’re happy. And since West Virginia’s electricity comes from burning coal, the state is pretty happy about having a way to help offset the millions of tons of greenhouse gases produced there. RED is getting big money from a deal made with Denham Capital Management, a private equity firm fueled by $1.5Billion from Bill Gates and Harvard University.