Whether considered in the context of emissions reduction, supply security, or economic competitiveness, the need to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency in Europe is overwhelming. Inefficient use of energy depletes natural resources and may threaten climate change. The aluminium industry supports the development of a more energy efficient society.
Efficient use of energy
The aluminium industry is particularly concerned about the wise use of energy for two reasons:
• Because aluminium is energy intensive, the aluminium industry constantly focuses on the efficient use of energy. There is no energy alternative for the sector to electricity, which represents a large part of aluminium production costs. The industry has its own interests at stake in becoming more energy efficient. The efficiency of aluminium smelters has shown a steady improvement since the 1950s, and electricity consumption has fallen by more than a third over that period.
• Energy is stored in aluminium products and can be re-used: aluminium products can be turned into recycled aluminium saving up to 95% of the energy us ed in primary production. Aluminium products are intrinsically a formidable source of energy and can be regarded as an energy bank. The recuperation of used aluminium products is thus both energy-efficient and cost-efficient for the industry. In Europe 40% of the 13.2 million tonnes of aluminium used in 2006 came from recycling.
Aluminium industry supports energy efficiency
The aluminium industry is constantly researching ways to use energy more effectively by:
• Maximising the energy-saving potential of aluminium products. Down-gauging, using thinner and stronger aluminium sections, is constantly researched and developed to reduce the energy needed for their production, use and transportation.
• Increased recycling through improved aluminium collection. The industry is supporting the increased recycling effort and contributes to further developing technologies for collection and sorting improvements.
• Streamlining energy use during production. General energy consumption throughout the production process is expected to be reduced as a consequence of technology development and upgrading of existing installations. Continuously improved technology have allowed reductions in energy consumption for electrolysis.