Rio Tinto and Prysmian have partnered toward decarbonizing the renewable energy supply chain by establishing a supply agreement for low-carbon aluminum and planning to develop solutions to meet North American electrification demand.
A five-year supply agreement for Rio Tinto aluminum, made with renewable hydropower, will work to help cable-producer, Prysmian, meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Additionally, a joint development agreement was made between the companies to leverage their combined technology, research, and development capabilities to support North American demand for electrification and renewable energy. Power generation from renewables in the United States is expected to increase from 21% in 2021 to 44% in 2050, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“We are proud to work together with Prysmian to strengthen their North American supply chain for aluminum produced to the highest sustainability standards and develop the materials needed to produce more advanced power cables,” said Amy Abraham, vice president of aluminum sales at Rio Tinto. “These types of products are critical for the power grid expansion that is needed for the transition to renewable energy sources and a low carbon future.”
Aluminum demand is also expected to increase by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, and the material is reportedly required to meet carbon neutrality goals. Major companies, including Ford, GM, Pepsi, and others, recently called for funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to be used to modernize and grow the clean aluminum industry since aluminum is particularly important in creating clean energy technologies, such as solar panels, wind turbines, heat pumps, and electric vehicles.
RioTinto’s Approach for Sustainable Aluminum Production
The aluminum industry has immense potential to implement sustainable supply chains, especially considering the material is infinitely recyclable, lightweight, and may be produced using renewable energy.
Rio Tinto’s aluminum operations take advantage of these characteristics, creating clean aluminum from hydropower-based operations, allowing for low-emissions aluminum production. Currently, seven hydropower plants generate most of the electricity the company uses in Canada.
Rio Tinto’s Aluminum Stewardship Initiative-certified aluminum reportedly follows standards that promote the protection of biodiversity, respect for Indigenous peoples’ rights, water management, and low carbon emissions. The company has also developed a technology that eliminates emissions from aluminum smelting. In 2022, Apple purchased a first batch of emissions-free aluminum for its new iPhone, and Rio Tinto is working to further scale up this technology for larger, commercial-sized clean smelting cells.