Uragold looking to break solar barrier
Uragold Bay Resources Inc. (TSXV: UBR) is a junior exploration company from Quebec, on its way to change the cost of silicon wafers in the solar industry with technology that is expected to reduce the Capex of Silicon and Polysilicon wafers by 95% and the Opex by 70%. This data is to be confirmed after completion of a lab scale specialized plasma reactor in 2016.
This kind of project makes granting agencies and governments excited because it definitely pushes the mass and energy balance of solar photovoltaics into the black. For example, ten years ago, photovoltaic cells used more energy than they produced. For this reason I have doubted the value proposition of photovoltaic program until 2012 when it broke the solar barrier. This has been the most critical factor limiting the deployment of photovoltaics.
But Uragold offers a tantalizing solution to push the industry further yet past the solar barrier.
Uragold has licensed plasma-based technology from a third party to transform its high purity quartz deposits to tap into the lucrative Silicon and Polysilicon markets.
With an annual market of $US 6 B, the solar grade Silicon and Polysilicon market is growing at an annual rate of 6% and should double by 2020 to meet growing demand for solar energy.
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Solar Grade Silicon sells for US$ 12,810 per Mt while Polysilicon sells for US$ 14,860 per Mt. The best in class producers show an average cash cost: US$ 10,000 to US$ 13,000 per Mt.
A new traditional 16 K TPY Solar Grade Si and/or Polysilicon plant requires Investments between US$ 900M & US$ 1B.
The core of the Uragold’s technology is protected in a patent application by PyroGenesis Canada Inc., which has granted Uragold a worldwide exclusive right to the usage of their PUREVAP™ Quartz Vaporization Reactor. The technology is based on the use of a plasma reactor within a vacuum furnace.
I have yet to see the patent, but a plasma reactor can be incredibly energy efficient and Capex efficient.
Uragold states that Capex of a 10K Mt per year of solar grade Silicon and/or Polysilicon is roughly US$ 50 M, which is five percent (5 %) of the cost of current solar grade Silicon and Polysilicon industry Capex. In turn Opex is expected at less than 70% to make solar grade Silicon and/or Polysilicon.
Uragold is the largest holder of distinct High Purity Quartz properties in Quebec, with over 3,500 Ha in claims. Despite the abundance of quartz, very few deposits are suitable for high purity applications. Quartz from its Roncevaux property in the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec successfully passed testing protocols by a major silicon metal producer confirming its suitability for Silicon metal production and offering an opportunity as feedstock for plasma transformation.
But Uragold is worth watching for more than its market potential and quartz deposits. Quebec is a business friendly jurisdiction with strategic government financing programs to stimulate economic development. Recently the Province of Quebec invested $1 B in Canada’s leading transport manufacturer Bombardier.
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>