Agoracom Blog Home

Posts Tagged ‘Hpq’

$HPQ.ca Silicon Resources Inc. – New Wind and Solar Power Is Cheaper Than Existing Coal in Much of the U.S., Analysis Finds

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

SPONSOR: HPQ-Silicon Resources Inc. (HPQ:TSX-V) A leader in High Purity Quartz Exploration in Quebec and vertically integrated producer of Silicon Metal, Solar Grade Silicon Metal and polysilicon. Learn More.

Hpq large
HPQ: TSX-V

————————-

New Wind and Solar Power Is Cheaper Than Existing Coal in Much of the U.S., Analysis Finds

Coal-fired power plants in the Southeast and Ohio Valley stand out. In all, 74% of coal plants cost more to run than building new wind or solar, analysts found.

By Dan Gearino

Mar 25, 2019

  • Not a single coal-fired power plant along the Ohio River will be able to compete on price with new wind and solar power by 2025, according to a new report by energy analysts.
  • The same is true for every coal plant in a swath of the South that includes the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi

Nearly three-fourths of the country’s coal-fired power plants already cost more to operate than if wind and solar capacity were built in the same areas to replace them, a new analysis says. Credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Not a single coal-fired power plant along the Ohio River will be able to compete on price with new wind and solar power by 2025, according to a new report by energy analysts.

The same is true for every coal plant in a swath of the South that includes the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. They’re part of the 86 percent of coal plants nationwide that are projected to be on the losing end of this cost comparison, the analysis found.

The findings are part of a report issued Monday by Energy Innovation and Vibrant Clean Energy that shows where the shifting economics of electricity generation may force utilities and regulators to ask difficult questions about what to do with assets that are losing their value.

The report takes a point that has been well-established by other studies—that coal power, in addition to contributing to air pollution and climate change, is often a money-loser—and shows how it applies at the state level and plant level when compared with local wind and solar power capacity.

“My big takeaway is the breadth and universality of this trend across the continental U.S. and the speed with which things are changing,” said Mike O’Boyle, a co-author of the report and director of energy policy for Energy Innovation, a research firm focused on clean energy.

The report is not saying that all of those coal plants could or should be immediately replaced by renewable sources. That kind of transition requires careful planning to make sure that the electricity system has the resources it needs. It also doesn’t consider the role of competition from natural gas.

The key point is a simpler one: Building new wind and solar power capacity locally, defined as within 35 miles for the report, is often less expensive than people in those markets realize, and this is indicative of a price trend that is making coal less competitive.

This shift shows how market forces are helping the country move away from fossil fuels. At the same time, coal interests have been trying to obscure or cast doubt on this trend, while seeking more government subsidies to slow their industry’s decline.

Coal Concerns in the Solar-Rich Southeast

Nearly three-fourths of the country’s coal-fired power plants already cost more to operate than if wind and solar power were built in the same areas to replace them, the report says.

By 2025, with the costs of building wind and solar power expected to continue to decline, the analysts project that 86 percent of coal-fired power plants will be more expensive than local renewable energy. Notably, the 2025 wind and solar estimates assume that expiring federal tax credits will not be extended, so any price advantage is without federal credits.

In parts of the country where power plants compete on open markets, such as most of Texas, companies may be more quick to shut down money-losing plants because plant owners are the ones bearing the losses.

It’s different in places where plants are fully regulated, as plant owners can pass extra costs on to consumers.

The Southeast, which is almost entirely regulated markets, has some of the costliest coal plants and is rich with solar resources.

“Consumer advocates and regulators there should be asking harder questions about integrating renewables,” said Eric Gimon, an energy analyst and co-author of the report.

In North Carolina, for example, a state second only to Indiana in total coal plant capacity, every one of those coal-fired power plants is “substantially at risk,” meaning the existing plants have operational costs that are at least 25 percent more than what it would cost to build wind or solar capacity, the report says.

The state’s largest utility, Duke Energy, has invested in solar. The report shows that there is room for more of this development, and that the state remains heavily dependent on coal power that is not cost-competitive.

Political Opposition in the Ohio Valley

In the Ohio Valley, some of the sunniest parts of Ohio are near the river in the southern and southwest parts of the state, areas that now have almost no solar power development. American Electric Power, a Columbus-based utility, has proposed solar arrays there, but the plans are running into fierce opposition before state regulators and it is far from clear that the projects will get approved.

The Ohio Valley is a hub for coal-fired power, with plants that were built because of proximity to coal mines and the ability to deliver coal on river barges. And yet, the report shows that most of those plants cost more to operate than building new wind and solar capacity.

One of the exceptions is the Gavin Power Plant, the largest in Ohio and one of the largest in the country at 2,600 megawatts, which is operating at a large enough scale to remain competitive. But by 2025, even Gavin won’t be able to keep up with the declining costs of wind and solar, according to the report. This doesn’t mean the plant will be unprofitable, but it signals a shift in the market that will put increasing pressure on the plant.

Some Utilities Are Factoring in Climate Impact

Colorado and the St. Louis metro area are two of the few places were coal plants would retain a cost advantage over new renewable energy in 2025, according to the analysis. The authors say that is because of a lack of available land to build cost-effective wind or solar within 35 miles and because the plants are close to coal mines, which reduces fuel costs.

But a purely cost-based analysis leaves out other reasons to shut down coal plants and build wind and solar, as shown by the largest utility in Colorado, Xcel Energy, which is doing just that.

The company’s executives said they were responding to reports about the acceleration of climate change. They have found that they can build new wind and solar capacity for little or no extra cost, which is a less precise comparison than in the new report.

And, they are preparing for the possibility that Colorado will pass a law requiring utilities to shift to 100 percent renewable energy, which is a priority of new Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

Distance can also make a difference in cost calculations. If new resources are built far from the ones they are replacing, grid operators and utilities need to make sure they have enough power line capacity to transport the electricity. Also, there are local economic considerations. Utilities sometimes put new projects in the same metro areas as ones that are closing to help the local community. This has been part of Excel’s planning process in Pueblo, Colorado, where it is closing a coal plant and developing new solar.

Natural Gas Competition Also Plays a Role

The report’s findings about the declining viability of coal plants are in line with previous studies, including one from March 2018 from BloombergNEF with the headline “Half of U.S. Coal Fleet on Shaky Economic Footing.”

But there is a key difference. The BloombergNEF report looked at the finances of coal plants in the context of competition from all fuels, including natural gas.

William Nelson, a co-author of the BloombergNEF report, says he is leery of comparing the costs of building new wind and solar to the costs of operating existing coal plants because a coal plant is capable of running around the clock, which makes it a different type of resource than wind and solar unless there is large-scale battery storage.

And, he thinks that natural gas prices are an essential part of the conversation in places such as the Ohio Valley, where gas is plentiful and inexpensive.

Gimon of Energy Innovation says he agrees that the role of natural gas in the market is an important element, but he says the report intentionally narrowed the focus to look at the deteriorating finances of coal and the improving competitiveness of wind and solar, rather than at the electricity market as a whole.

Daniel Cohan, a Rice University engineering professor who is not involved in the new report, says “gas is more of a gamble” for power plant owners than wind or solar because of uncertainty about future gas prices.

He thinks there is more certainty that wind and solar will continue to get less expensive and that their prices can serve as a useful comparison for coal.

The decreasing costs of wind and solar will lead to a growing gap compared to the costs of operating coal plants, one that coal plant owners and regulators would be wise to prepare for, Gimon said.

“You really can’t hang tight,” he said. “It’s just going to get worse.”

Source: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/25032019/coal-energy-costs-analysis-wind-solar-power-cheaper-ohio-valley-southeast-colorado



$HPQ.ca Gen2 PUREVAP(TM) Testing of Tapping Section of Pilot Plant Design and Subsystems, De-Risking Up-Coming Pilot Plant Trials $PYR.ca

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:15 AM on Tuesday, March 5th, 2019
  • Announced the receipt of a progress report from PyroGenesis Canada Inc (TSX Venture: PYR) describing continuous development testing of the pilot plant design and reactor related subsystems of the Silicon Melt Drainage (Tapping) part of the process.  
  • Work of the Gen2 PUREVAP™ Commercial Scalability Proof of Concept platform is undertaken in order to minimize the risk of design failure during the pilot plant trials schedule to start mid-2019.

MONTREAL, March 05, 2019 – HPQ Silicon Resources Inc. (HPQ) (TSX VENTURE:HPQ) (FRANKFURT:UGE) (OTC PINK:URAGF) is pleased to announce the receipt of a progress report from PyroGenesis Canada Inc (“PyroGenesis”) (TSX Venture: PYR) describing continuous development testing of the pilot plant design and reactor related subsystems of the Silicon Melt Drainage (Tapping) part of the process.  This work of the Gen2 PUREVAP™ Commercial Scalability Proof of Concept platform is undertaken in order to minimize the risk of design failure during the pilot plant trials schedule to start mid-2019.

DRAINAGE OF LIQUID SILICON MELT AT THE BOTTOM OF REACTOR (TAPPING) CRITICAL TO PROCESS

Drainage of silicon (tapping) is one of the most important aspects of the process.  Efforts have been made by PyroGenesis to optimize the design of the melt drainage subsystems of the pilot plant.  In order to test design efficiency and to generate computational studies to predict the tapping behaviour of liquid silicon in the Gen3 pilot plant, a few silicon melting and tapping tests using GEN2 reactor have been conducted to date.

SIMULATED TAPPING DONE USING GEN2

To simulate the tapping process of the pilot plant unit, the Gen2 reactor was ramped up to operating parameters with a standard mixture of quartz and carbon introduced at the beginning.  Once the reactor reached operating temperature as-received Si is introduced in the reactor for effective melting.  Once the whole Si mass melted, the tap hole was opened to drain the liquid metal and the data from the test was then used to generate computational studies.

Mr. Bernard Tourillon, President and CEO of HPQ Silicon Resources Inc stated: “We are very happy to show our first ever public picture of the Gen2 in action.  What these tests demonstrate is the incredible versatility of our Gen2 PUREVAPTM QRR platform, highlighting the advancement being made on the project and toward de-risking the mid-2019, Gen3 commercial scalability testing phase”.

Pierre Carabin, Eng., M. Eng., Chief Technology Officer and Chief Strategist of PyroGenesis has reviewed and approved the technical content of this press release.

This News Release is available on the company’s CEO Verified Discussion Forum, a moderated social media platform that enables civilized discussion and Q&A between Management and Shareholders. 

About HPQ Silicon

HPQ Silicon Resources Inc. is a TSX-V listed resource company focuses on becoming a vertically integrated and diversified High Purity, Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si) producer and a manufacturer of multi and monocrystalline solar cells of the P and N types, required for production of high performance photovoltaic conversion.

HPQ’s goal is to develop, in collaboration with industry leaders, PyroGenesis (TSX-V: PYR) and Apollon Solar, that are experts in their fields of interest, the innovative PUREVAPTM “Quartz Reduction Reactors (QRR)”, a truly 2.0 Carbothermic process (patent pending), which will permit the transformation and purification of quartz (SiO2) into high purity silicon metal (Si) in one step and reduce by a factor of at least two-thirds (2/3) the costs associated with the transformation of quartz (SiO2) into SoG Si. The pilot plant equipment that will validate the commercial potential of the process is on schedule to start mid-2019.

Disclaimers:

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements containing the words “may”, “plan”, “will”, “estimate”, “continue”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “expect”, “in the process” and other similar expressions which constitute “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current expectation and assumptions, and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to, our expectations regarding the acceptance of our products by the market, our strategy to develop new products and enhance the capabilities of existing products, our strategy with respect to research and development, the impact of competitive products and pricing, new product development, and uncertainties related to the regulatory approval process. Such statements reflect the current views of the Company with respect to future events and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties and other risks detailed from time-to-time in the Company’s on-going filings with the securities regulatory authorities, which filings can be found at www.sedar.com. Actual results, events, and performance may differ materially. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements either as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable securities laws.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

For further information contact
Bernard J. Tourillon, Chairman, President and CEO Tel (514) 907-1011
Patrick Levasseur, Vice-President and COO Tel: (514) 262-9239
www.HPQSilicon.com

Shares outstanding: 222,284,053 

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/0a12fa2b-0337-4107-8531-a2feb7f7c2e3

Picture of Gen2 in action during simulated tapping test

PyroGenesis $PYR.ca Announces Latest PUREVAP; GEN2 Results; Provides Update $HPQ.ca

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:39 AM on Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
  • Announcement today is as a result of a step by step study which was performed to investigate the effect production yield has on the purity of silicon end-product.
  • Theoretical calculations which were obtained in the previous phase were also validated
  • In conclusion, it was found that higher production yields actually enhance end-product purity, which confirms our previous calculations.

MONTREAL, Feb. 27, 2019 – PyroGenesis Canada Inc. (http://pyrogenesis.com) (TSX-V: PYR), (the “Company”, the “Corporation” or “PyroGenesis”) a Company that that designs, develops, manufactures and commercializes plasma atomized metal powder, plasma waste-to-energy systems and plasma torch products, announces today its latest testing results for PUREVAP™ Gen2, and provides a general update on its PUREVAP™ Project with HPQ Silicon Resources Inc (“HPQ”).

This announcement today is as a result of a step by step study which was performed to investigate the effect production yield has on the purity of silicon end-product. Theoretical calculations which were obtained in the previous phase were also validated. In conclusion, it was found that higher production yields actually enhance end-product purity, which confirms our previous calculations. Specifically, the results of this extrapolation calculation indicate that a higher production yield will enhance the final silicon purity, reaching 99.993% (+4N) at 90% production yield.

Mr. P. Peter Pascali, President and CEO of PyroGenesis, provides this update on PUREVAP™ in the following Q&A format. The questions, for the most part, are derived from inquiries received from investors, and analysts:

Q. For those that are new to the story, could you please provide an overview of the project and technology?

A. Most certainly.

HPQ is the owner of quartz properties. Quartz can be processed, through multiple steps, into a high purity silicon metal which is an important element in solar panels. It helps convert solar energy into useful electricity. Many in the solar panel industry consider the cost of converting quartz into solar grade silicon metal to be a limiting factor in the growth of the solar panel industry.

PyroGenesis was first engaged by HPQ to demonstrate, on a laboratory scale, that its proprietary PUREVAPTM process could produce high purity silicon metal from quartz in just one step.

This could be significant to the solar panel industry since the industry is highly dependent on high purity silicon metal in its solar panels. Any reduction in the cost of high purity silicon metal would benefit the industry as a whole, and if significant, could be game changing.

The primary goal of the PUREVAP™ process is to reduce (i) capital costs, and (ii) operating costs in the production of high purity silicon metal. A side benefit of the PUREVAP™ process is that, at the same time, it can replace polluting conventional processes, with a cheaper and environmentally friendly alternative by reducing the carbon footprint of current silicon metal production methods.

Specifically, PUREVAP™â€™s current targets are as follows:

  1. Reduce CAPEX to transform quartz to solar grade silicon by between 60% (China) and 86% (“Rest of the World” or “ROW”);
  2. Reduce OPEX to transform quartz to solar grade silicon by between 30% (China) and 60% (ROW);
  3. Reduce carbon footprint to transform quartz to solar grade silicon by up to 96%;
  4. Investigate new opportunities for high value niche applications that could also benefit from cheap high purity silicon.

Q. Where do we stand with the technology?

A. Let us first review the question in the context of what we have achieved to date:

We started this project in early 2016, a little over 2 years ago. By June 2016, we had already demonstrated PUREVAP™â€™s ability to transform quartz into high purity silicon metal exceeding 99.9+%, or 3N (3N reflects 99.9% or 3 Nines). Before moving on let me put 3N in the context of what we are trying to achieve:

PurityGradeApplicationsMarket Size
98.5-99.5%
 (1N-2N)
Metallurgical
Grade
Feedstream to electronic and solar grade Silicon production Additive for aluminum alloys Feedstream to making fumed silica, silanes and silicone > 2.2M T/yr
99.9 – 99.99%
(3N-4N)
High Purity &
Special Grade
Powders for batteries SiAl targets for the glass industry Industrial quality Si3N4 > 220 kT/yr
> 99.999%
(5N+)
Solar Grade Solar cells > 400 kT/yr

Table 1

The potential uses of high purity silicon metal is depicted on Table 1 above. This market is typically divided into three broad grades: Metallurgical Grade (1N-2N), High Purity & Special Grade (3N-4N), and Solar grade (5N+).

One can see that 3N silicon metal addresses a significant market. As we are developing a process to produce solar grade silicon metal, we have discovered a way to produce 3N. To do so on a commercial basis opens up another revenue stream, and effectively reduces project risk.

Once we demonstrated the ability to transform quartz into high purity silicon metal, we next needed to demonstrate scalability. This we did by the beginning of 2017. By this time, we had demonstrated scalability of the process by increasing production from 1.1g to 8.8g of material. Later in 2017, by Q3, we estimated that silicon production yield played an important role on the final purity of the metal produced; PyroGenesis theoretical calculations, assuming a 100% production yield, concluded that the purity of the silicon produced, under various operational conditions could, at commercial scale, range from 3N (99.984 % Si) to 4N (99.996 % Si) for low purity feedstock, and to 4N+ (99.998 % Si) when using high purity feedstock. Recent Gen2 tests reported not only confirm these results, but exceed them and, as such, our baseline has now moved from 3N+ to 4N+ which, it and itself, is quite noteworthy.

Q. What is the next step?

A. The next step will be the pilot plant where we expect to produce silicon metal based on the results developed during the GEN1 and GEN2 lab phase tests.

We are currently designing and building a 50 tonnes per year (TPY) pilot plant to produce larger quantities of 4N+ silicon, which will then be upgraded to solar grade silicon, with the ultimate goal of producing test solar cells. We expect the pilot plant to be completed within the next two quarters.

Q. Ok, but 4N is still not solar grade.  How do you think you can achieve solar grade?

A. This is the interesting part, and one I don’t think the market fully understands. We are still targeting 6N as our ultimate goal however, in the interim, HPQ has identified a faster route to market by the addition of Apollon Solar (“Apollon”). Apollon is a private French company with longstanding expertise in Silicon Purification and Crystallisation, Solar Silicon, Photovoltaic Cells and Photovoltaic Modules. Simply put, Apollon is one of the world’s leaders in renewable energies, and has an expertise in purifying/upgrading high purity silicon metal even further to obtain solar grade silicon. Of note, they also have an expertise in producing solar cells. This is a huge addition to the PUREVAP™ process because it essentially means that on the way to target 6N, we can use a lower level of purity which could be further upgraded with Apollon’s expertise, thereby further reducing overall project risk. In short, the time to market has been significantly reduced with the addition of Apollon.

Q. What does this mean for PyroGenesis?

A. We are not a charity. We deploy assets for the benefit of our shareholders, for whom there are many advantages with our contractual relationship with HPQ. First, we are currently under contract with HPQ to deliver and operate the pilot plant. Second, we are entitled to a 10% royalty on all future silicon metal sales. Third, we have a right of first refusal on the next phases of the project, the first of which would be a commercial plant at 5,000 TPY (which is expected to be ordered shortly after the pilot phase). Finally, we retain the right to use the technology for other applications other than the conversion of quartz to silicon, opening up new markets and opportunities for PyroGenesis.

In short, this project is very meaningful to PyroGenesis and its shareholders.

Q. What are the next milestones?

A. These latest results were what we needed before going flat out with the completion of the installation and commissioning of the pilot system, which will be the next real milestone. It is expected that the output from this system will be upgraded by Apollon to solar grade material which will then be used to produce test solar cells. We expect to produce our first solar cells made using PUREVAP™ sometime late 2019/early 2020. Shortly after that, a full commercial plant will be commissioned.

Q. Are there any risks?

A. There are always risks with R&D, as you know, and there is never a guarantee of success. However, if you ask me generally about the risk of this project, I can tell you with 100% certainty that the risks have been significantly reduced in our favor since we started. We have considerably de-risked the project by doing extensive tests on GEN1 and further validating our scale-up assumptions with GEN2.  We have gained invaluable experience with GEN2 which we have implemented in the design of the pilot plant.

Of note, something else the market has not fully understood is that along the way, we believe we have identified possible commercial uses for the 3N+ material itself which, as I noted earlier, opens up new commercial applications, and further reduces project risk.

Q. Do you still feel this technology will work?

A. I have said this before and I will say it again, PyroGenesis does not have time or money to waste on projects that do not have future potential. Each and every day PyroGenesis has to decide where to allocate its resources, the most important of which is its time. Plasma expertise, such as ours, does not grow on trees and we must be very discerning as to where we dedicate this valuable resource. Do we dedicate it to Additive Manufacturing (powders for 3D printers), DROSRITETM, other development projects…or HPQ? The profit from the HPQ relationship does not, in and of itself, justify dedicating such scarce resources to the project. However, the royalty from the success of the project, does.

So, to answer your question, yes, we are fully committed to its technology, and believe more than ever before that it will be game changing in its own right.  

Talk is cheap, but as you can see, we currently hold over 21M common shares plus over 17M warrants in HPQ. You can’t get more committed than this.

Q. What would you advise investors?

A. Do your due diligence. Invest with full understanding, and…follow the money.

About PyroGenesis Canada Inc.

PyroGenesis Canada Inc., a TSX Venture 50® high-tech company, is the world leader in the design, development, manufacture and commercialization of advanced plasma processes and products. We provide engineering and manufacturing expertise, cutting-edge contract research, as well as turnkey process equipment packages to the defense, metallurgical, mining, advanced materials (including 3D printing), oil & gas, and environmental industries. With a team of experienced engineers, scientists and technicians working out of our Montreal office and our 3,800 m2 manufacturing facility, PyroGenesis maintains its competitive advantage by remaining at the forefront of technology development and commercialization. Our core competencies allow PyroGenesis to lead the way in providing innovative plasma torches, plasma waste processes, high-temperature metallurgical processes, and engineering services to the global marketplace. Our operations are ISO 9001:2015 certified, and have been since 1997. PyroGenesis is a publicly-traded Canadian Corporation on the TSX Venture Exchange (Ticker Symbol: PYR) and on the OTCQB Marketplace. For more information, please visit www.pyrogenesis.com.

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements containing the words “may”, “plan”, “will”, “estimate”, “continue”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “expect”, “in the process” and other similar expressions which constitute “forward- looking information” within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking statements reflect the Corporation’s current expectation and assumptions and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to, our expectations regarding the acceptance of our products by the market, our strategy to develop new products and enhance the capabilities of existing products, our strategy with respect to research and development, the impact of competitive products and pricing, new product development, and uncertainties related to the regulatory approval process. Such statements reflect the current views of the Corporation with respect to future events and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties and other risks detailed from time-to-time in the Corporation’s ongoing filings with the securities regulatory authorities, which filings can be found at www.sedar.com, or at www.otcmarkets.com. Actual results, events, and performance may differ materially. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. The Corporation undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward- looking statements either as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable securities laws. Neither the TSX Venture Exchange, its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) nor the OTCQB accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this press release.

SOURCE PyroGenesis Canada Inc.

For further information please contact: Clémence Bertrand-Bourlaud, Marketing Manager/Investor Relations, Phone: (514) 937-0002, E-mail: [email protected]  

RELATED LINKS: http://www.pyrogenesis.com/

HPQ-Silicon Resources $HPQ.ca – Solar shines brightest for renewables-keen investors

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:33 AM on Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

SPONSOR: Exclusive global partnership puts HPQ-Silicon Resources in a position to turn Quartz project into lowest cost supplier to solar industry. Click here to learn more

HPQ: TSX-V

Solar shines brightest for renewables-keen investors

  • Institutional investors surveyed by the Octopus Group have ranked grid-scale solar power as their top deployment target, amid plans to inject US$210 billion in the broader renewable sector within five years.
  • A poll of 100 names published by the firm on Monday found 43% of those managing a portfolio of renewables were invested in solar, ahead of firms invested in onshore and offshore wind (28% each), hydropower (27%) and waste-to-energy and biomass (an aggregate 24%).

By José Rojo Martín

Institutional investors ranked uncertainty with energy prices as a top obstacle (Source: Karnakata Tata)

Institutional investors surveyed by the Octopus Group have ranked grid-scale solar power as their top deployment target, amid plans to inject US$210 billion in the broader renewable sector within five years.

A poll of 100 names published by the firm on Monday found 43% of those managing a portfolio of renewables were invested in solar, ahead of firms invested in onshore and offshore wind (28% each), hydropower (27%) and waste-to-energy and biomass (an aggregate 24%).

Of the respondents – a mix including pension funds, insurers and banks with US$6.8 trillion in combined assets under management – Australians (63%) were keenest on solar, followed by EMEA (58%), Asian (45%) and UK firms (29%).

The industry was the most sought-after also among firms currently not invested in renewables, although some appeared sceptical. Some 58% of those managing a renewables-free portfolio claimed to be considering solar plays, while 21% were not contemplating it and another 21% felt unsure.

Five years to unlock US$210 billion

Even as they singled out grid-scale solar as their top target, the polled investors promised to scale up allocations to all forms of renewables, with US$210 billion set to be deployed within five years.

Private banks appeared the most ambitious, sharing plans for renewables to represent 9.7% of their portfolios over the period. They were followed by strategic investors (8.9%) and pension funds (7.8%), while high-net-worth individuals and family offices (5.5%) and insurers (4.7%) were the most reluctant.  

The Octopus survey evidenced the renewables momentum won’t be challenge-free, though. Energy price uncertainty, liquidity challenges and skills shortages ranked as the top concerns for the polled investors, although costs and regulatory barriers were also seen as obstacles.

Europe before its subsidy-free hour

The Solar Finance and Investment conference held in London in late January identified investors as the key enablers of subsidy-free solar in Europe. Corporate PPAs and other emerging arrangements are easing – although not fully dispelling – investors’ unease around merchant risks and potentially low returns, it was argued.

The Octopus poll placed the continent as the most in-demand destination for renewables investors. Of the top 10 countries and region, only Australia (seventh) and Japan (10th) were non-European.

The survey produced a finding likely to be welcomed by subsidy-free players. Almost one-in-two institutional investors piling into clean energy worldwide was driven by stable cash flows (a driver for 48%) and attractive risk-adjusted returns (40%); only diversification and ESG considerations placed higher.

Source: https://www.pv-tech.org/news/solar-shines-brightest-for-renewables-keen-investors

HPQ Silicon $HPQ.ca PUREVAP; Project: Milestones and Plans Going Forward

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:25 AM on Thursday, January 24th, 2019

MONTREAL, Jan. 24, 2019 — HPQ Silicon Resources Inc. (HPQ) (TSX-V â€œHPQ”) is pleased to provide investors this corporate overview of the milestones attained since our 2014 entry in the Quartz exploration business and our 2015 decision to become a vertically integrated producer of Solar Grade Silicon Metal through the development of the PUREVAP™ Quartz Reduction Reactor (QRR).  Shareholders and prospective investors are encouraged to review the following information in its entirety to understand the progress made and plans being implemented to transform HPQ into the lowest cost and greenest producer of Solar Grade Silicon Metal, as we commence 2019 with the final assembly of the PUREVAP™ Pilot Plant, “Gen 3” and it’s mid 2019 start-up.

Mr. Bernard J. Tourillon, President and CEO of HPQ-Silicon provides his responses in the following Q&A format. The questions, for the most part, are derived from inquiries received from investors, investment professionals and industry participants. A table summarizing the Purevap™ milestones appears on page 2 of this summary:

Q. To start, could you please briefly describe the focus and objectives of HPQ going forward?

A. Most certainly.  Following the successful closing of our $ 5,250,000 Financing in August 2018 and the December 2018 completion of our Beauce Gold Field assets spinout, HPQ is now entirely focused on becoming a vertically integrated producer of solar grade silicon metal. In 2019, we intend to:

  1. Use our 50 tpa (tonnes per year) Pilot Plant, developed by our partners PyroGenesis Canada Inc. (“PyroGenesis” or “PYR”), to demonstrate the commercial potential of the PUREVAPTM “Quartz Reduction Reactors” (QRR) process (patent pending), and its ability to convert Quartz (Silicon Dioxide or SiO2) into High Purity Silicon Metal of 99.9% to 99.99% Si, (referred to as 3N and 4N, respectively) in just one step;
  2. Use the material produced by the Pilot Plant to finalize the best metallurgical pathway (UMG) to upgrade “HPQ PUREVAP™ Si” (Silicon Metal) to Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si), through collaboration with PYR and Apollon Solar (“Apollon”), and in doing so becoming the world’s leading Low Cost, Low Carbon Footprint producer of SoG Si;

HPQ expects to confirm that PUREVAPTM and UMG processes will:

  • Reduce CAPEX to transform Quartz to SoG Si by between 60% (China) and 86% (“Rest of the World” or “ROW”) 1;
  • Reduce OPEX to transform Quartz to SoG Si by between 30% (China) and 60% (ROW)1;
  • Reduce the Carbon Footprint to transform Quartz to SoG Si by up to 96%2;
  • Investigate new opportunities for high value niche applications that need the High Purity Silicon Metal that our PUREVAPTM QRR produces in one step.

Q. Could you please briefly describe what started HPQ interest in becoming a vertically Integrated Producer of Solar Grade Silicon metal?

A. Well, the short answer is: “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”. The long answer is that in 2014 HPQ had a number of gold properties that contained extensive quartz veins with which gold is typically associated. Quartz (Silicon Dioxide or SiO2) is the key ingredient required for making Silicon Metal (Si).

Silicon Metal (Si), is one of today’s key strategic metals, like Lithium and Cobalt, that is needed to fulfil the renewable energy revolution presently under way.

By early 2015, HPQ management came to the realization that in order for HPQ to succeed in the Quartz business, HPQ needed to transform its low value quartz resources into a higher value material, Silicon Metal, and ultimately Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si), which is a higher purity form of Silicon Metal that allows the transformation of the sun’s energy into electricity in photovoltaic (PV) modules.

In short, we needed to find a pathway to become a vertically integrated producer of Si, and preferably SoG Si. That is when we discovered PyroGenesis.

Q. Ok, its one thing to say “HPQ wants to become a vertically integrated producer of Solar Grade Silicon metal” but implementing is another. Could you please describe what makes the HPQ plan unique?

A. Certainly.  From the start we knew that HPQ could not afford the time or money required to assemble a world-class technical team with Silicon Metal (Si) or Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si) expertise. To reach our goal, our choices were either a) collaborate with a university, knowing that it would take years just to pass the proof of concept phase, or b) outsource our R&D with a technological partner that possesses proven expertise with high temperatures processes, and a track record of successfully taking new concepts, from the lab to commercialization phase.

During 2015, HPQ concluded that to convert our Quartz into Si, and possibly SoG Si, we needed to convince PyroGenesis Canada Inc (“PyroGenesis”), with their vast expertise on high temperature plasma base processes, to partner with us.

PyroGenesis has an impressive track record of successfully taking new concepts from the lab to commercialization, including but not limited to, the following:

  • The US Navy, developing the PAWDS™ technology from lab scale to finally being specified in the design of the new US Aircraft Carriers,
  • Plasma atomization for 3D printing;
  • More recently with the deployment of their DROSRITE™ technology.

PyroGenesis expertise is of such high level that:

  • In addition to the US Navy, during the last 2 months, PyroGenesis has concluded exclusive partnerships with two multi-billion conglomerates to commercialize specific applications they have developed, from lab to commercial scale, on a global basis.

In 2015, HPQ’s Board of Directors accepted a testing proposal from PyroGenesis regarding laboratory scale, proof of concept, metallurgical testing of the PUREVAPTM QRR.  The proposed program was to validate its capacity to produce high purity silicon metal from HPQ quartz in just one step (September 30, 2015 release).

In June 2016, the first successful lab scale tests were completed and by test #6, results confirmed the game changing potential of the PUREVAPTM QRR process.

HPQ immediately approached PyroGenesis regarding additional testing and the development of a pathway to building a pilot plant that could validate the commercial scalability of the process as quickly as possible. As they say, the rest is history.

Q. What motivated HPQ to move so fast to validate the commercial scalability of the PUREVAPTM QRR process?

A. The decision was simple; the first bench test showed all equipment and data analyzers worked.  By test #6, not only did the system operate as designed, but also the PUREVAPTM QRR process was already reaching its first major milestones, the ability to transform quartz into high purity Silicon Metal (Si) exceeding 99.9+% Si “3N” (June 29, 2016 release).

HPQ and PyroGenesis came to an agreement whereby HPQ would invest 100% of project costs for 90% of the revenues to be generated by PUREVAPTM QRR and, with that, HPQ obtained the participation of a world class technical team to work on our project of becoming a vertically Integrated producer of Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si). Fundamentally, the agreement allows both Parties to reap the rewards of the new process to make High Purity Silicon Metal (Si) and eventually SoG Si using HPQ Quartz and the PyroGenesis PUREVAPTM QRR.

On August 2, 2016, PyroGenesis and HPQ announced the terms under which HPQ would invest the funds and own the PUREVAPTM QRR’s Intellectual Property3 (August 2, 2016 release), with PyroGenesis taking responsibility for the bench testing, process design, fabrication, assembly, and cold commissioning of the Pilot Plant.

Q. In your press releases you refer to Gen 1 and Gen 2 can you please describe Gen 1 and the testing milestones?

A. As we outlined above, the project started in 2015 with PyroGenesis’ technical team designing and building a laboratory scale proof of concept PUREVAPTM QRR, the Gen1 reactor.

The Gen1 PUREVAPTM QRR laboratory scale equipment completed 15 tests between March 29th and July 22th 2016 under the scope of the “Phase 1 – Proof of Concept Metallurgical Tests Program”.  These tests confirmed that the PUREVAP™ QRR concept of combining different known steps into a one step process works at lab scale. With this milestone achieved, we then agreed to expand our collaboration to go all the way to Pilot Plant.

In September 2016, while initial Pilot Plant design was underway, HPQ also ordered a new series of lab scale R&D tests using the Gen1 PUREVAPTM QRR to provide invaluable input toward the design of the pilot plant, as well as, determine the most efficient way of scaling up the PUREVAPTM QRR process to commercial scale production.

In November 2016, another key milestones was reached as Gen1 testing results demonstrated that the PUREVAP™ QRR was capable of using SiO2 feed material below minimum industry specifications to produce Silicon Metal (Si) of greater purity than what could be achieved by traditional, status quo processes used to make Metallurgical Grade (98.5% to 99.5% Si) Silicon Metal4 today.

By the end of January 2017, in tests using a modified and expanded Gen1 PUREVAP™ QRR reactor, the yield increased from less than 0.1 g to 8.8 g (test #32), an increase of approximately 9,000% (roughly one hundred-fold), thereby confirming the potential scalability of the process.

Ongoing work to the end of Q2 2017 validated our systematic and methodical approach to the project and allowed PyroGenesis to advance the detailed engineering and design of the pilot plant.

By the end of Q2 2017, it was clear that the Gen1 PUREVAP™ QRR had reached its maximum usefulness so the decision was made to build a Gen2 PUREVAP™ QRR, pushing the design envelope of the lab scale system to a point that will allow it to be operated in a semi-batch mode to increase Silicon Metal (Si) yields.  This would provide further insight into process improvements needed for the Pilot Plant, thereby saving millions of dollars in future development work.

Q. Now during 2017 you announced an agreement with Apollon Solar, can you diverge a bit and tell us how that came about, and the impact?

A. In 2017, we attracted the attention of Apollon Solar SAS, (“Apollon”). This is significant because Apollon is a private French company with longstanding expertise in Silicon Purification and Crystallisation, Solar Silicon, Photovoltaic Cells and Photovoltaic Modules. The team at Apollon has become one of the world leaders in the development of processes to refine Solar Grade Silicon Metal “SoG Si UMG”.  They achieved, an independently confirmed, world record conversion efficiency of 21.1% with a monocrystalline ingot, for a solar cell made with 100% “SoG Si UMG”.

Apollon first completed a technological audit of the Gen1 PUREVAP™ QRR results to evaluate the potential of the innovative PUREVAP™ QRR process. They concluded that successful commercial scaling-up of the PUREVAP™ process could lead to the production of solar quality silicon at a significantly lower cost compared to those of competing process technologies (examples include Siemens chemical process, Elkem Solar, Silicor Materials, etc.).

As a result, in December 2017, HPQ and Apollon announced the signing of a consultancy agreement whereby Apollon agreed to transfer knowledge it has acquired in solar silicon over the last 20 years for the benefit of HPQ and PyroGenesis.

Q. That’s all very exciting, now can you discuss Gen 2 and the commercial scalability of the PUREVAPTM QRR process?

A. The Gen2 PUREVAP™ QRR incorporates important process modifications identified during Gen1 testing and is designed to be a scale replica of the planned larger pilot plant (Gen3 PUREVAP™ QRR). In Q2 of 2017 we set about constructing the newly redesigned reactor while awaiting the final report from the Gen1 work.  In Q4, as Gen2 was being finalized, HPQ received a final report on the Gen1 PUREVAP™ QRR testing and we learned that:

  • The highest silicon tested for bulk purity was produced in test #75 and measured 99.92% Silicon Metal (Si)5.
  • Si yield could be increased by increasing production yield, which had been constrained around an average of about 3% in Gen1.
  • Theoretical calculations indicated that purity of the Si produced under various conditions could range from 3N (99.984 % Si) to 4N (99.996 % Si) with the addition of volatilization agents for low purity feedstock, to over 4N (99.998 % Si) when using high purity feedstock5.

These results were incorporated into Gen2 and, by November 2017, the Gen2 PUREVAP™ QRR was operational, allowing the de-facto start of the pilot plant testing and commissioning, thereby reducing the risk profile of the project and allowing additional process modifications and further proof of commercial scalability work to be done in parallel with major plant fabrication, to keep advancing work.

JANUARY 2018

PyroGenesis confirmed that the Gen2 PUREVAP™ QRR was operating as designed and yielding results that were in line with expectations.  By this time, we had also arranged monthly meetings with Apollon and PyroGenesis to benefit from the backend expertise of Apollon in our ongoing test work as we continued to plan for the Gen3 Pilot Plant design.

Gen2 PUREVAP™ demonstrated it could be operate and perform under the conditions demanded for optimum operational parameters to produce the purities required in one step.  Again, this was another major milestone because, to our knowledge, there is no other process that does this in the world.

With the main design and equipment performance characteristics reached, significantly increasing the Yield6 and the Production Yield7 of the Gen2 PUREVAP™ became the next key objectives in contributing to final purity.

FEBRUARY 2018

By mid February 2018, the Gen2 PUREVAP™ was proving to be an invaluable bench test platform and the results were used to scale back on the size of the planned Pilot Plant from 200 tonnes per year to 50 tonnes per year. This had a massive benefit on our planned costs, timing, and on locating the Pilot Plant test site – right inside the PyroGenesis testing facility, another huge cost saver.  

By the end of February 2018, the Gen2 reactor was operating within the 90th percentile of its achievable production yield. By mid April 2018, as a direct result of continuous process improvements done by PyroGenesis, Gen2 PUREVAP™ test #14 attained Yield and Production Yield numbers that surpassed theoretical expectations. The total mass of Silicon Metal (Si) produced (yield) during test 14 was 101.45 gr; and conversion of material, referred to as Production Yield, of 34.3%, the highest to date.

APRIL 2018

PyroGenesis completed a scheduled audit of the Gen2 PUREVAP™ equipment for wear and tear following test#14.  The audit was needed to help identify critical operational parameters for the PUREVAP™ Pilot Plant and allowed the evaluation of additional design modifications that could be implemented for further tests using the Gen2 PUREVAP™.

JULY 2018

By the end of July 2018, the Gen2 PUREVAP™ equipment had been refurbished, re-assembled and modified to incorporate the latest design modifications and was ready to start a new series of at least 8 additional tests focused on:

  • Continuing to optimize conditions for the Gen2 PUREVAP™ and the planned Gen3 PUREVAP™ Pilot Plant operation;
  • Increasing the Yield and the Production Yield;
  • Testing the Purity range of the Silicon Metal (Si) from low purity feed stock (98.84% SiO2) and ultra high purity feed stock (> 99.9% SiO2), analyzed using ICP-OES8;

Q. It sounds like Gen2 is giving great results and contributing to the Pilot Plant final parameters.  You mentioned CO2 (“Greenhouse Gas” or “GHG”) reductions as another positive feature of the PUREVAP™ process can you elaborate on that?

A. Yes we are very excited about this aspect of the project.  First, readers must understand that:  â€œIt’s not because photovoltaic solar panels do not emit CO2 (GHG) while producing electricity that solar energy is not a significant source of GHG”.9  In fact solar power has its greenhouse gas issues that lurk behind the scenes.  Seventy percent (70%) of the GHG generated when building a new solar farm10 comes from the production of the Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si) needed for the fabrication of the solar panels. 

Manufacturing SoG Si in China, the world’s largest producer, generates an astounding 141 kg of CO2 per kg of SoG Si produced.  In Germany that ratio is reduced to 87.7 kg CO2 per kg of SoG Si produced. What we see is that solar power is not that panacea of low carbon if one looks at the entire process from start to finish.

96% REDUCTION IN CARBON FOOTPRINT – OPPORTUNITY TO RESOLVE SOLAR PARADOX

In August 2018, PyroGenesis prepared a report11 that found that the PUREVAPtm QRR process operated in Quebec should only produce 5.4 kg CO2 per kg of SoG Si produced, a 96% reduction in the carbon footprint compared to existing processes. This is why we are so excited about this “green” opportunity revolutionizing the solar energy industry.

Q. Technically it sounds like great progress is being made, how is HPQ set financially today?

A. On August 21, 2018, HPQ announced the closing of a $5,200,000 financing that included the participation of the Quebec government, via its “Créativité Québec” program, and PyroGenesis.  Closing these financings, at more than a 40% premium to market price in August 2018 was a tangible demonstration that both the Quebec Government and PyroGenesis believe in the innovative potential of our PUREVAPtm QRR process (August 13 and 21, 2018 releases). Since August 2016, HPQ has invested $3,988,400 for the pilot equipment, representing 90% of the $4,430,000 design, fabrication and assembly budget.

Thanks to these new financings HPQ, in collaboration with its technical partners, will now be able to dedicate its efforts and energies toward the fulfilment of the ambitious commercial validation of the PUREVAPtm QRR process and the production of Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si) at the Pilot Plant level.

Q. Sounds like you have the financing under control. You mentioned at the onset that HPQ and partners are targeting a Pilot Plant, with bench test work well in hand and financing complete, can you give a status update of the Pilot Plant that you are now referring to as Gen3?

A. In mid September 2018, PyroGenesis took delivery of the 6 tonne furnace, the key component of the 50 tonne per year Gen3 PUREVAPTM QRR pilot plant.  Delivery of the furnace marks the start of the assembly phase of the Pilot Plant, which is in an HPQ dedicated area at PyroGenesis’ production facility in Montréal.  The Pilot Plant assembly will be completed during Q1 2019, commissioned during Q2 2019 and operational mid – 2019, just 3 years after the original concept was validated.

As of the date of this corporate update, the Gen2 PUREVAP™ equipment is still being used by PyroGenesis to test different operational conditions in order to gain more information about future Gen3 PUREVAP™ operation and testing is also ongoing to find new ways of increasing the Yield and the Production Yield of the Gen2 PUREVAP™.

Finally, a new progress report on the test results completed in 2018 with the Gen2 Purevap should be ready soon.

Q. How transferable are the results obtained from Gen2 to the pilot plant?

A. We believe they are very transferable. In fact, we expect the results to be even better at larger scale. By increasing the scale, we are increasing the production rate. As you can imagine, we are already extremely excited about the results we have had with Gen2, and at a larger scale, the production rate is automatically higher which, as we have already proven with Gen1, should lead to a higher conversion yield and better purity.

Q. HPQ has started talking about using a metallurgical process to transform the Si produced via the PUREVAPTM QRR to produce SoG Si.  Is this just a semantic change or is HPQ changing its objectives?

A. It is more semantic than anything else; the project is advancing towards meeting our stated objectives when we started it in 2015:

“The “PUREVAP ™ Quartz Reduction Reactor is a proprietary process that uses a plasma arc within a vacuum furnace.  This unique technology should allow HPQ (Uragold then) to convert its (…) Quartz Projects into the highest purity, lowest cost supplier of Solar Grade Silicon Metal (…) to the solar industry.

But this may be a good opportunity to explain in detail what makes the PUREVAPtm QRR such a game changing technology and why we have started to refer to it as a “Second Generation (2.0) Carbothermic process”.

Presently, using the status quo to produce Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si), you first need to transform Quartz (Silicon Dioxide or SiO2) into Metallurgical Grade Silicon Metal (MG Si) and then the MG Si needs to be further purified produce SoG Si.

PRESENT LEGACY CARBOTHERMIC PROCESS

The first step in making SoG Si involves mixing Pure Quartz (99.5%+ SiO2), Low Ash Carbon and Wood Chips and heating the mixture to very high temperatures in an electric arc furnace to create the Carbothermic process required to reduce the SiO2 to Metallurgical Grade Silicon Metal (MG Si).

The traditional smelter process to make MG Si requires six (6) tonnes of raw material to produce one (1) Tonne of Silicon Metal (Si).

To view Figure 1, please visit the following link: http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/2209e304-a764-4575-b120-e7c3fc010574 

By its design, the impurities contained in the raw material end up being concentrated in the final product, that is why traditional smelters need (99.5%+ SiO2) to produce 98.0% Si.

The maximum purity that can be attained in traditional smelters is around the 99.5% Si threshold, but that requires additional post treatments.  On average these postproduction processes can increase the purity of the MG Si by a factor ranging from ½ N to 1 N.

For Silicon Metal (Si) to be used in the Solar and High Tech Industries, higher purity levels than what can be attained by standard carbothermic reduction are required.  Presently, less then twenty percent (20%) of MG SI produced by smelter meets the demanding feedstock purity specs required for the different additional purifications steps.

CHEMICAL DISTILLATIONS PROCESS (Siemens)

Chemical distillations process (Siemens process) to purify MG Si to purity required for Solar Grade applications or electronic applications has become the gold standard, with over 95% of the world SoG Si produced through chemical distillations, even with it negative environmental footprint.

Producing SoG Si (Polysilicon) via chemical distillations requires between 72,000 KWh/T up to 120,000 kWh/t and as the term clearly indicates chemical distillation implies that further refinement involves the use of harsh chemicals like hydrochloric acid, and the final products include liquid silicon tetrachloride and polysilicon.  Each ton of polysilicon is manufactured at the cost of three to four tons of these hazardous by-products.  When silicon tetrachloride is exposed to water it releases hydrochloric acid, which causes acidification of soil as well as the emission of toxic fumes.12

To view Figure 2, please visit the following link: http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/cf2fb91b-4738-4b69-9770-ee2bfd81a628

METALLURGICAL PROCESS

For many years, companies have been searching and investing funds looking for a metallurgical alternative to Chemical distillations process to transform MG Si into SoG Si.

Two groups, Elkem and Ferroglobe have been able to demonstrate, at commercial scale, the technical viability of using metallurgical process to further purify what is essentially 2N MG Si (99.0% Si) into a 5N+ SoG Si (UMG) that can be used to produce solar cells that deliver efficiencies and yield ratios which compare very favourably with photovoltaic industry benchmarks.13

To view Figure 3, please visit the following link: http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/7f4b1ae1-c535-4b98-8345-a43ac34cc8e3 

The main advantage of a metallurgical process is the low operational cost, (for each individual step and total) combined with lower energy consumption for producing the UMG SoG Si (35,000 kWh/t versus a minimum of 72,000 KWh/t).

The biggest drawback of this process and the reason why, until now, it has not become the industry standard is that the CAPEX cost associated with every operational step (Slag Treatment, Leaching, Solidification and Post Treatment) are high, due to size and capacity needed to purify what is essentially 2N MG Si (99.0% Si) into a 5N+ SoG Si (UMG). 

The fact that the operational cost saving are marginal on relative term while the CAPEX (Cost per kg of annual capacity matrix) associated with a complete metallurgical process to make UMG SoG Si is equivalent to the CAPEX (Cost per kg of annual capacity matrix) of building a chemical distillation process (Siemens) plant, is the only reason why metallurgical processes to make UMG SoG Si have not become mainstream in the industry.

Q. Now that is all very interesting, but if big companies like Elkem and Ferroglobe have not been able to make metallurgical processes work, why should we believe that HPQ with it’s PUREVAPTM QRR can?

A. It really comes down to big corporate culture.  Our approach to the problem is disruptive; we are not looking at tweaking existing process to transform Quartz (Silicon Dioxide or SiO2) to Metallurgical Grade Silicon Metal (MG Si) or developing a new process that will be more efficient at removing the impurities from MG Si to produce Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si).  We are looking for a new pathway of reducing Quartz (Silicon Dioxide or SiO2) to Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si) by developing the PUREVAP™ QRR a “Second Generation (2.0) Carbothermic process”.

Imagine a young engineer walking into a meeting and telling his bosses that the billions of dollars invested in the technology assets of the company should be scrapped for a brand new concept. Those bosses grew up, as it were, on the existing technology.   There is no way that is going to happen, so big corporations spend all their effort tweaking the existing process.

It takes an upstart that is unencumbered with this corporate culture to bring about change. Examples include Microsoft with IBM, Tesla and GM, as simple examples of this concept.

This is what we are working on accomplishing and we believe that the PUREVAPtm QRR is that game changing disruptive technology for Solar Grade Silicon Metal.

To view Figure 4, please visit the following link: http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/0bcb69d4-f20a-43ca-a609-a0a654773359 

Q. Ok, its one thing to say: the PUREVAPTM QRR is a game changing disruptive technology, but why and more important when will HPQ be in a position to demonstrate that the project is truly advancing toward that tipping point?

A. We, HPQ and technical partners PyroGenesis and Apollon Solar, have identified the following reasons why the PUREVAPtm QRR process will become the game-changing technology that could revolutionize the solar energy industry:

  1. Using metallurgical process to purify 2N MG Si (99.0% Si) into a 5N+ SoG Si (UMG) is technically feasible;
  2. The costs (CAPEX and OPEX) of removing, with metallurgical processes, multiple N of impurities from MG Si to produce 5N+ SoG Si (UMG) are prohibitive and make these process not financially feasible at present;
  3. Increasing by one (1) or better yet two (2) N the purity of the Silicon Metal (Si) produced during the carbothermic phase of converting Quartz (Silicon Dioxide or SiO2) to Si, for the same (CAPEX and OPEX) costs as traditional smelters incur to produce 2N MG Si (99.0% Si), should generate significant reductions of (CAPEX and OPEX) costs to make UMG SoG Si;
  4. This is what our Gen1 PUREVAPtm QRR results indicated should happen at commercial scale, and that is what the Gen3 PUREVAPtm QRR was built to demonstrate at commercial scale.

So, during 2019, as the Gen3 PUREVAPtm QRR pilot plant confirms the key working hypothesis of the November 2017 Gen1 based theoretical calculations is working at commercial scale, is when we expect to start receiving inquires from players in Silicon Metal and Solar Grade Silicon Metal industries.

If we can demonstrate a capacity to produce, in one step, a Silicon Metal (Si) with a purity that range from 3N+ to 4N+ from low purity Quartz (Silicon Dioxide or SiO2) feedstock, interest may also come from Solar players, since we would be starting to validate our claim that our PUREVAPtm QRR and UMG process will be the cheapest and greenest way to produce SoG SI in the world.

This does not mean that they are not looking at what we are doing, “au contraire”… But presently, we are attracting mostly interest from industry participants that have invested significant funds developing Quartz resources looking for ways of increasing the economic model of their projects.

Finally, shareholders and prospective investors would be wrong to assume that nothing will happen until then.  As stated above, the Gen2 PUREVAP™ equipment is still being used to test different operational conditions in order to gain more information about future Gen3 PUREVAP™ operations and testing, to find new ways of increasing the Yield and the Production Yield of the Gen2 PUREVAP™.

A new progress report on the test results completed in 2018 with the Gen2 Purevap should be ready soon.

Q. With Solar Energy Prices now at Parity with Natural Gas and Coal, is there still a need for a new process like the PUREVAPTM (QRR)?

A. Yes, actually more than ever, as the size and speed of future investment in renewables energy is dependent on an ever-declining cost per watt model going forward, while the GHG concerns are becoming more challenging to governments and industry.

Over the last 40 years, solar energy innovations, financed mostly by government incentives, have allowed solar energy prices to reach parity with most fossil fuels today14.  While this type of approach has generated phenomenal success regarding the cost per watt matrix, this approach is also responsible for phenomenal long term and short term market dislocation.

One of the most important dislocations is related to the costs (CAPEX and OPEX) of making Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si).  Process improvements for making SoG Si have plateaued while returns for producing SoG Si are vanishing for investors, making financing of new high purity silicon capacity using old processes to turn MG Si into SoG Si difficult. HPQ solves this problem.

As figures 5 and 6 demonstrates, without new processes (like the PUREVAPTM QRR) that can bring about a new leg down in the cost (CAPEX and OPEX) of making SoG Si, this situation will either lead to production bottlenecks and potential shortage of SoG Si to meet demand. As with all commodities, this will result in a surge in the price of silicon, causing an unexpected increase in the price of solar energy.

CAPEX reduction as it pertains to the cost of making SoG Si have plateaued around the US $35 Cost per Kg of annual Capacity in China and US$ 50 Cost per Kg of annual Capacity in the Rest of the World.

Figure 5 clearly demonstrates the disruptive Capex potential (US$) of the PUREVAPTM QRR process.

To view Figure 5, please visit the following link: http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/516c785a-8302-4817-b315-7654cc35fcd9 

Figure 6 for its part demonstrates that, even in 2018, the cost curve for SoG SI suggests that reductions in the OPEX costs had now plateaued and that a long‐term SoG Si price below USD 14/Kg is simply not feasible.  It is clear that to break this plateau, new processes like the PUREVAPTM QRR will need to reach commercial viability.

To view Figure 6, please visit the following link: http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/8506f76f-63fb-430e-9529-9c91a8b6e611 

Q. According to a specialized publication15, Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si) consumption should decline to 3g/W by 2022, from 4g/W in 2018, how will this new reality affect HPQ Business Model?

A. My answer may sound counter intuitive, but HPQ sees this as a positive factor for our PUREVAPTM QRR + UMG project going forward.  The effect of the decline will negatively impact mainly the highest cost producer, but a new process that can cut CAPEX and OPEX costs as much as our PUREVAPTM QRR + UMG project appears to be on the threshold of doing, will definitively benefit the entire industry and future consumers, possibly leading to the breakout needed to catapult solar energy ahead of carbon based energy for future generations.

What is important to realize is that demand for SoG Si is a combination of demand for each new GW of solar energy for the consumer and the SoG Si consumption needed to produce that new GW.

What is also shown in Figure 6 is the demand need for increased amounts of SoG Si required to meet the demand growth for solar energy:

  • 2018 was projected at 97 GW @ 4.0 g per W; ≈ 388,000 MT of SoG Si demand;
  • 2019 was projected at 113 GW @ 3.7 g per W; ≈ 418,000 MT of SoG Si demand;
  • 2020 was projected at 129 GW @ 3.5 g per W; ≈ 451,000 MT of SoG Si demand.

Future demand projections for solar energy is such that even at 3.5 g thresholds, demand for SoG Si in 2020 should exceed the 451,000 MT mark, and that can be directly related to the fact that Solar Energy demand grows from its present two percent (2%) market share of the global electricity generation capacity to the ten percent (10%) threshold anticipated by 203016.

This translates into a demand in US$ for SoG Si that will grow from US$ 7.1 B in 2018 to over the US$ 11.8 B mark by 202817.

Q. An often-asked question is, how comfortable are you with the patent application?

A. The short answer is: very comfortable. PyroGenesis is leading the patent application, which is progressing as expected.  Given PyroGenesis vast experience in obtaining patents and their $1,950,000 investment in HPQ at a premium in August, this question should be put to rest once and for all.

Q. Some investors/shareholders are skeptical about the whole process.  Do you have any comments?

A. Well, they should meet the engineers! Now there is a skeptical bunch and that is natural with any new process as groundbreaking as this. Every step of the way has brought its share of challenges but has also brought about many more positive surprises and developments.  This is the immense competitive advantage HPQ has as a result of bringing together the engineering brainpower of PyroGenesis and Apollon Solar.  Seriously, we are talking about a process that potentially could be game changing by several magnitudes. Who wouldn’t be skeptical?  You would have to be a fool not to be.  Adding to this is the fact that the results to date are beyond our expectations, which, in a weird way, fuels the “too good to be true” skepticism, no?  On the other hand, how many chances do you get to invest into such potential, at 6 cents a share and market cap of CAD$13 million, when our strategic partner and the Government have invested CAD$5,250,00 at a Company valuation of CAD$26 million?  Food for thought!

Q. What about the quartz properties?  The last we heard about quartz exploration was in Q4 2017 when you announced a drilling campaign on the Ronceveaux? 

A. We are still fully invested in our 100% owned Martinville and Ronceveaux quartz properties.  However we decided to hold off on quartz exploration to allocate exploration funds for geophysics and geology work on the Beauce Gold property.

Now that the spin-off of Beauce Gold Fields is done, we intend to go back to Martinville and Ronceveaux properties to bulk sample quartz as test feed for the Gen3 PUREVAP reactor.  For the next twelve (12) to twenty-four (24) mounts our need in Quartz as feedstock is limited to about 150 MT for 2019-2020.

Q. Ok so you have talk a lot about your plans for the solar market but in your first answer you mentioned silicon for batteries, what is that about?  

A. From phones to electric cars, batteries play important role for just about everyone on earth, and Si usage in the batteries space is increasing.  The most promising new type of battery being developed presently is Lithium Silicon Anode Batteries (Li-Si Batteries).  Researchers have found that by replacing the graphite with silicon in a standard lithium battery, your drastically improve performance.  Anyone who owns a mobile phone or for that matter, an electric car, wishes that the battery would charge faster and last longer.   

For everybody involved in this project it has given an appreciation of silicon metal, and some surprises have included opportunities that may have an impact on the lithium ion battery industry. We will not retire the Gen2 reactor as we did Gen1 but we will use it to pursue some of the interesting ‘accidental outcomes’ from our efforts to develop a new pathway to make clean energy cleaner and more cost efficient.

Q. Conclusion?

A. There is no other way to say it, our belief that PUREVAP™ process is going to become a game-changing event that has the potential to revolutionize the solar energy industry has not waned one bit since we made our first bold statements in 2015.  The project is advancing, the success we have attained in less than 3 years is spectacular and the de-risking that has occurred with every successful phase is significant.

In short, all three partners are happy with the progress to date and stand firmly behind the project.  We are more convinced than ever that we will be successful in having a commercially viable process at the end of the 2019. Investors need to remember that we are just at the start of this process and that we have more exciting developments moving forward then what we have already accomplished to this point. The future of HPQ is very bright – no pun intended.

This News Release is available on the company’s CEO Verified Discussion Forum, a moderated social media platform that enables civilized discussion and Q&A between Management and Shareholders. 

About HPQ Silicon

HPQ Silicon Resources Inc. is a TSX-V listed resource company planning to become a vertically integrated and diversified High Purity, Solar Grade Silicon Metal (SoG Si) producer and a manufacturer of multi and monocrystalline solar cells of the P and N types, required for production of high performance photovoltaic conversion.

HPQ’s goal is to develop, in collaboration with industry leaders, PyroGenesis (TSX-V: PYR) and Apollon Solar, that are experts in their fields of interest, the innovative PUREVAPTM “Quartz Reduction Reactors (QRR)”, a truly 2.0 Carbothermic process (patent pending), which will permit the transformation and purification of quartz (SiO2) into high purity silicon metal (Si) in one step and reduce by a factor of at least two-thirds (2/3) the costs associated with the transformation of quartz (SiO2) into SoG Si. The pilot plant equipment that will validate the commercial potential of the process is on schedule to start mid-2019.

Disclaimers:

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements containing the words “may”, “plan”, “will”, “estimate”, “continue”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “expect”, “in the process” and other similar expressions which constitute “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current expectation and assumptions, and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to, our expectations regarding the acceptance of our products by the market, our strategy to develop new products and enhance the capabilities of existing products, our strategy with respect to research and development, the impact of competitive products and pricing, new product development, and uncertainties related to the regulatory approval process. Such statements reflect the current views of the Company with respect to future events and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties and other risks detailed from time-to-time in the Company’s on-going filings with the securities regulatory authorities, which filings can be found at www.sedar.com. Actual results, events, and performance may differ materially. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements either as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable securities laws.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

For further information contact

Bernard J. Tourillon, Chairman and CEO Tel (514) 907-1011
Patrick Levasseur, President and COO Tel: (514) 262-9239
www.HPQSilicon.com

Shares outstanding: 222,284,053

1 PyroGenesis Budgetary cost number for a 2,5K TPA Purevap, Apollon Rough Order of Magnitude Costing for a 2,5K UMG process
2 PyroGenesis Canada Inc. Technical Memo: “TM-2016-707 REV 01, (July 2018),- Purevap system – Carbon Footprint study
3 PyroGenesis retains a royalty-free, exclusive, irrevocable worldwide license to use the process for purposes other than the production of silicon metal from quartz.  Should PyroGenesis develop any other such application, HPQ Silicon shall have a right of first refusal in the event of any sale or otherwise disposal.
4 http://pyrometallurgy.co.za/Pyro2011/Papers/083-Xakalashe.pdf5 PyroGenesis Canada Inc. Technical Memo: “TM-2017-830 REV 00, – Final Report-Silicon Metal Purity Enhancement
6 Total mass of Si produced during one test
7 Production Yield is the conversion efficiency of Quartz into Silicon Metal of the process
8 Inductive coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry
9 https://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21711301-new-paper-may-have-answer-how-clean-solar-power10 Assessing the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from solar PV and wind energy: A critical meta-survey,  Energy Policy , February 2014, Pages 229-244
11 PyroGenesis report – Silicon SoG Carbon Footprint TM-2016-708, revision #2
12 https://www.azocleantech.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=831
13  Ferroglobe PLC, Aug. 14, 2018 release.
14 http://news.mit.edu/2018/explaining-dropping-solar-cost-1120 
15 https://www.pv-tech.org/editors-blog/china-531-to-accelerate-demise-of-multi-polysilicon-consumption-decline-to
16 (Canadian Solar latest investor presentation)
17 (Deutsche Bank, Future Market Insights report titled, “Polysilicon Market: Global Industry Analysis 2013-2017 and Opportunity Assessment 2018-2028”)

Figure 1 – Quartz to MG Si process
Figure 1 – Quartz to MG Si process
Figure 2 – Chemical Process (Mg SI to SoG)
Figure 2 – Chemical Process (Mg SI to SoG)
Figure 3 Metallurgical Process (MG si to SoG Si)
Figure 3 Metallurgical Process (MG si to SoG Si)
Figure 4 PUREVAP
Figure 4 PUREVAP
Figure 5 CAPEX analysis (US$ Cost per Kg of annual Capacity)
Figure 5 CAPEX analysis (US$ Cost per Kg of annual Capacity)
Figure 6 Cost Curve for SoG Si
Figure 6 Cost Curve for SoG Si