The European aluminium industry is suffering from high energy prices and needs competitive prices to secure its future.
During its annual Spring Meetings 2022, European Aluminium discussed with industry experts and policymakers the future of Europe’s energy infrastructure following the ongoing energy crisis. Both the industry and energy sector stressed the need to facilitate affordable and low-carbon energy uptake for industrial users to help navigate the current crisis while meeting the EU’s target for climate neutrality.
Aluminium industry needs affordable energy
European Aluminium kicked off its 2022 Spring Meetings with a cross-industry stakeholder debate on “Fit for net-zero: Industrial decarbonisation in an energy-sensitive environment”. The event, bringing together Europe’s aluminium actors from more than 600 plants in 30 European countries, welcomed officials and industry experts from the energy sector, including the International Energy Agency, the Cabinet of EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, Solar Power Europe, Eurelectric, Foratom, and Eurogas.
Primary smelters curb production
Since the start of the energy crisis in autumn 2021, Europe’s aluminium industry had to idle approximately 900,000 t of its primary production. Downstream and recycling companies are also increasingly affected by the rising energy prices, which have been further exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Especially in the short- to medium-term, the transition from gas to alternative power sources such as green hydrogen will be restricted by infrastructural and technical limitations. Today, access to affordable and green electricity is even more a matter of survival for the electro-intensive primary aluminium producers in Europe. To date, almost half of EU27 production has been curtailed.
EA calls for European energy agenda
“There is no doubt that current economic consequences have heavily impacted European businesses and particularly aluminium, which is already facing tremendous challenges at a global level like unfair trade practices and higher energy costs. This crisis has stepped up the urgency for Europe to boost its resilience in low-carbon energy sources and raw materials strategic to the Green Deal. We believe the RePowerEurope Communication represents a positive step in the right direction in the short-term, but we will need thorough and systemic actions to ensure the twin imperatives of a sustainable Europe with a strong industrial basis. We, therefore, urge EU policymakers to define long-term mechanisms to facilitate the production, accessibility, and consumption of decarbonised energy at globally competitive prices”, said Ingrid Jörg, Chair of European Aluminium.
The event also highlighted the need to foster cross-sectoral cooperation to address the green transition and ensure Europe’s leading role. Aluminium companies from across the value chain showcased important decarbonisation efforts and breakthrough technology developments that are on the horizon to successfully enable Europe’s mid-century objectives.
The Spring Meetings 2022 were the first in-person edition in two years of European Aluminium. The industry association now counts over 100 member companies from across the continent and value chain, representing around 85 % of all European aluminium production (EU, UK, EFTA, and Turkey).