Boosting The U.S. Green Economy with…Aluminum? nathan dodds June 29, 2023

Boosting The U.S. Green Economy with…Aluminum?

The latest report from the BlueGreen Alliance, titled ‘Aluminum, Revitalized: Strengthening the Backbone of Our Clean Economy,’ underscores the urgency of revitalizing the U.S. aluminum industry to fulfill its potential as a clean energy lynchpin. The report offers compelling insights into the role aluminum could play in driving the U.S. economy towards a cleaner, more sustainable future, while also providing an economic boost.

With solar panels, electric vehicles, and other rapidly expanding clean technologies relying heavily on aluminum, its demand is set to skyrocket. By 2035, the report estimates that the U.S. solar power sector alone will require more aluminum than current U.S. production levels for all end uses.

However, there’s a hitch. Since the 1990s, most U.S. aluminum smelters have closed their doors, leaving only five operational today. Consequently, the U.S. now relies heavily on overseas aluminum, primarily from China, which produces about 65% more emissions compared to the U.S.

The report argues that the U.S. cannot risk relying on high-polluting overseas aluminum, which runs counter to our climate goals. Instead, it proposes the revitalization of the U.S. aluminum manufacturing sector, suggesting that it could create good-paying jobs, reduce industrial emissions, and meet the burgeoning demand for clean energy technologies.

Federal investments from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Defense Production Act, among others, can be strategically utilized to reopen and retrofit aluminum smelters for cleaner manufacturing processes. Potential investments include an uncapped production tax credit (45X Tax Credit) and $10 billion for emission reduction technologies (48C Tax Credit). Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy has proposed approximately $6 billion in grants for energy-intensive industrial facilities, including aluminum manufacturers, to adopt transformative technologies.

The revitalization of the U.S. aluminum industry is a significant opportunity. It promises good-paying jobs, economic recovery for industrial communities, and substantial strides towards a livable climate. As Ben Beachy, Vice President of Manufacturing and Industrial Policy at the BlueGreen Alliance, said, “Revitalizing clean U.S. manufacturing of aluminum—a material forming the backbone of the clean economy—is imperative for meeting our climate goals, while offering the opportunity to create good-paying jobs in hard-hit communities.”

With strategic investments, we can reverse the decline of U.S. aluminum manufacturing and harness its potential for the benefit of our economy, our communities, and our planet.

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