The decade of the 2020s is officially when “supply chains” became a mainstream concern. Craft breweries have been pinched by supply constraints (and then inflated prices) in several ways. See this award-winning look at the CO2 shortage for one big example. Another on-going supply concern is that of aluminum cans.
And it’s not just beverage companies.
More than a dozen companies in the beverage, auto, and clean energy sectors, including several multinational giants, are calling for federal investments via the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to reinvigorate American-made aluminum production.
In a letter to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm that will be published today, Sept. 20, these companies warn that U.S. primary aluminum production is in crisis — just as global aluminum demand is set to increase nearly 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
Aluminum is an essential component in manufacturing everyday products like food and beverage containers, of course, as well as electric vehicles, solar panels, heat pumps, wind turbines, and more.
Projected increases in demand from wind and solar alone is forecasted to exceed all current aluminum consumption in the U.S.
Yet, domestic primary aluminum production has mirrored the decades-long decline of the U.S. manufacturing sector; 23 smelters were operating three decades ago, but just six remain.
While the IRA and other federal investments have spurred an American manufacturing revival, primary aluminum production is at risk of being left behind. These industries are calling on the US must invest heavily in supply. These investments can also help decarbonize aluminum production by upgrading facilities with new technologies that reduce climate and air pollution and connecting them with low-cost, long-term supplies of electricity powered by renewable energy.