In a collective effort to revive the struggling American aluminium industry, prominent companies including Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Pepsi Co., Ball Corp., Rivian, and SunPower have penned a letter to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm, advocating for federal investment in clean aluminium production. The letter, which emphasizes the importance of preserving and expanding domestic aluminium manufacturing, proposes leveraging the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to secure a sustainable supply of clean energy.
Cynthia Williams, Global Director of Sustainability, Homologation and Compliance at Ford, highlighted the company’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050 and the significance of domestically sourced, low-carbon primary aluminium in achieving sustainability goals in a press release.
“The Inflation Reduction Act presents a powerful opportunity for the Department of Energy to prioritize American-made, clean sources of aluminium, which will in turn make more sustainable options available to companies like Ford.”
The letter, which was published on www.buycleanaluminium.com and featured in full-page ads in five newspapers, stresses the urgency of modernizing the aluminium industry in the United States. The signatory companies represent key sectors such as automotive, beverage packaging, and renewable energy, all of which heavily rely on aluminium.
Ramon Arratia, Chief Sustainability Officer for Ball Corporation, emphasized the company’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from operations and supply chains by 2030.
“The Biden administration has an opportunity right now to rapidly accelerate the decarbonization of primary aluminium refining and smelting in the U.S., and make America a global leader in producing clean aluminium.”
The signatories underscored the critical role aluminium plays in various industries, including food and beverage packaging, clean energy technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines, as well as electric vehicles. Global demand for aluminium is projected to increase significantly by 2030 and 2050.
The letter highlights the challenges facing the U.S. primary aluminium industry, including rising electricity costs, limited access to low-cost renewable energy, and insufficient federal investment. These factors have led to layoffs, production cutbacks, and closures in the industry, exacerbated by volatile fossil fuel prices.
The U.S. Department of Energy has the opportunity to revitalize the primary aluminium industry by using IRA funds to reduce emissions from manufacturing processes and power supplies. Currently, DOE officials are evaluating applications from aluminium companies seeking to invest IRA funds for these purposes.
Adam Chrisman, President of SunEarth, emphasized the importance of supporting American manufacturing and the adoption of low-carbon aluminium in their products.
“Our use of low carbon aluminium in our products is a testament to our dedication to reducing our environmental impact and promoting domestic content.”
The aluminium industry’s reliance on fossil fuels has jeopardized its future they note, with power supply accounting for a significant portion of production costs. High energy costs due to volatile fossil fuel prices forced smelters in Kentucky and Indiana to curtail operations last year. In contrast, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar have seen a sharp decline in electricity prices over the past decade.
The letter’s signatories advocate for securing low-cost electricity supplies in the short term while investing in long-term supplies of cheap, renewable energy to support the sustainability and growth of the American aluminium industry.