27 May 2024
Aluminium – Central to A Sustainable Future

Aluminium has evolved from a mere household material used in the foil used to pack our lunches and the soda cans we drink from, to occupying a prime position in human life as a cornerstone of modern technology. As we continue to navigate through the evolution of humankind, transitioning from the Iron Age to the Steel Age, we now stand on a new ‘Age’, one powered by the possibilities of Aluminium.

Our journey towards a sustainable future is paved with aluminium. As nations and industries strive to meet stringent emission targets and decarbonize their operations amidst the global green revolution, the world is going to need a lot more aluminium to shift towards renewable sources. It will take a mammoth and diligent effort to be fulfilled, but once achieved, can lead to a planet that is cleaner, greener, and technologically advanced for coming generations.

For example, the amount of solar energy that reaches the Earth in just one hour is sufficient to fulfill global energy needs for an entire year, positioning solar power as an ideal pathway toward a sustainable energy future. Here too, aluminium plays a starring role as it is the most widely used mineral material in solar photovoltaic (PV) applications, accounting for more than 85% of the mineral material demand – from frames to panels. The metal can even improve solar cells themselves. By embedding aluminium studs in solar panels, it can significantly increase  efficiency due to the material’s exceptional reflectivity properties.

The Bhadla Solar Park located in Rajasthan, India, is the largest solar park in the world, covering an area of 21.8 square miles with a capacity of 2,245 megawatts. It can power many major cities in the country. This park also ties into the country’s major shift in energy production with various government initiatives and backing promoting solar power station development. It is also a perfect symbol of the rich potential that aluminium can play in India’s long-term progress.

Aluminium’s usefulness extends beyond just solar panels to several other forms of renewable technologies including wind and hydroelectricity. It also plays an important role in enabling improved energy storage solutions. In the context of wind energy, aluminium is crucial for deploying both onshore and offshore projects, forming key components of tower platforms and turbines. In addition, aluminum-ion batteries highlight the metal’s role in advancing energy storage technologies, which are critical for managing the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources.

In a world striving to align with the Paris Agreement’s climate goals, aluminium stands out as an indispensable resource. Its ability to lighten vehicles and strengthen power structures while being integral to solar panels and wind turbines positions it as a key driver of a decarbonized future.