Major companies, including Ford, General Motors, PepsiCo, Ball, Rivian, SunPower and eight others, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm requesting that funds provided by the Inflation Reduction Act be used to support the modernization of the clean aluminum industry.
The letter warns that the U.S. aluminum industry is in decline, challenged by soaring electricity prices and a shortage of low-cost renewable energy. With global demand for aluminum expected to grow 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, the companies say clean domestic aluminum production is "critical to U.S. economic growth."
Some companies in the letter said that in order to achieve carbon neutrality, domestic low-carbon primary aluminum is urgently needed, but the aluminum industry is currently heavily dependent on fossil fuels, resulting in higher costs for domestic aluminum smelters in the United States.
The company said that the company's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in operations and supply chains by more than half by 2030, as an important buyer of aluminum can panels, Ball is using its own purchasing power to help the aluminum beverage packaging industry to low-carbon primary aluminum and low-carbon recycled aluminum transformation, but the transformation is not a company alone can achieve. The Biden administration now has the opportunity to rapidly accelerate the decarbonization of primary aluminum refining and smelting in the United States, making the United States a global leader in clean aluminum production.
Electricity now accounts for 40 percent of total production costs at U.S. smelters, and high costs have led to production cuts in some states. As the price of electricity from renewable sources has fallen over the past decade, renewable energy may save aluminum smelters from being knocked out by high electricity prices.
The letter asks the federal government to ensure low-cost electricity at facilities in the short term, while also investing in the long-term supply of affordable, clean energy.
The companies mentioned in the letter represent a wide range of industries, from solar panel makers to beer companies. The versatility of clean aluminum offers opportunities to decarbonize many industries.
According to the letter, aluminum demand from wind and solar power alone is expected to exceed all current aluminum production. The dramatic expansion of aluminium manufacturing provides a major opportunity to reduce emissions. Currently, carbon emissions from aluminum production account for 80% of the total emissions from materials production, but clean aluminum technology can enable low-carbon or even carbon-free manufacturing.
According to the International Energy Agency, the aluminum industry is currently off target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. However, as long as the US Department of Energy prioritizes the need to decarbonize primary aluminum as it continues to implement the Inflation Reduction Act, there is still time for this trend to get back on track.