Skip to main content

No Snow for Skiing, The Greenest Aluminum

alm2001_7SHigh-tn We’ve sometimes said that even if government locks up in its efforts to combat climate change that industry will do so – it can see what is happening in other countries and knows that, while it may be on the trailing edge of government action, that will not always be the case. It has also proven to be good business, as customers respond well to green initiatives.

What we hadn’t considered is that certain industries might not be able to do much in this direction, but will certainly suffer if weather patterns shift away from them. Mother Jones’ Clive Thompson looks at the issue from this angle:

But any serious industrialist who's facing "climate exposure"—as it's now called by money managers—cannot afford to engage in that sort of self-delusion. Spend a couple of hours wandering through the websites of various industrial associations—aluminum manufacturers, real-estate agents, wineries, agribusinesses, take your pick—and you'll find straightforward statements about the grim reality of climate change that wouldn't seem out of place coming from Greenpeace.

Thompson uses the example of a Colorado ski resort, which strikes us as going a little too small scale – it’d be interesting to hear more from those aluminum manufacturers – but we take his point.

---

Actually, two points: one is that some industries will cease to exist if climate change wreaks havoc in particular ways; and the second is that industries are recognizing a need to change their manufacturing processes whether or not government is making rules about it.

Of the second point, here is the Aluminum Association (you knew we had to look):

The aluminum industry’s Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership has focused efforts on reducing two potent PFCs, tetrafluoromethane (CF4) and hexafluoroethane (C2F6)—and has achieved great success toward this goal. … Their actions reduced PFC emissions from U.S. primary aluminum smelting by 45 percent—equivalent to 2.2 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide annually.

And the industry has more in the works to reduce its footprint further.

Those are two good points and they lead to a third: global warming has fully entered the cultural consciousness and is motivating change throughout society. We cannot pretend to know whether these efforts will have a measureable impact, and do think government will have to take a role in industries where change implies large expense, but these efforts to reduce emissions in various industries set a table at which it will be hard for larger entities not to sit.

---

Did you know Alaska had a moratorium on nuclear energy? Us, either – there are no plants there, though Alaska’s Senator Lisa Murkowski has always been favorably inclined to it. It just didn’t occur to us there was such a thing.

In any event, the moratorium is gone. Nuclear energy has been included in the just passed Alaska Sustainable Energy Act. This story doesn’t talk about nuclear much, but includes this:

The bill rewrites state oversight of proposed nuclear projects, partly by making nuclear investment eligible for aid from the state Power Project Fund.

Now, someone just has to want build a plant there.

This story goes into some of the statehouse actions taken around the country regarding nuclear energy. There’s been some failures but more successes and where a ban may have been allowed to stand, well, there’s always next year. The edifice of state bans and moratoria is rapidly crumbling.

“The conversion of Kitimat Works to AP technology will make it the greenest aluminum smelter in the world when the new capacity comes on stream. The new Kitimat smelter will be among the three lowest-cost aluminum smelters in the world.  Production will increase by as much as 40%, even as greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by a similar amount.” Kitimat is in British Columbia. See here for more.

Comments

DocForesight said…
"Now, someone just has to want build a plant there." Doesn't Toshiba want to build their 4S unit for Galena, AK? In fact, that story was one of the first that I read about a year ago following an insightful broadcast on KSFO 530 AM radio on the energy density of different fuels. Rabbi Daniel Lapin was the host.

Considering how many other SMR's are in various stages of development, there are literally millions of towns to be served by these modular systems.

BTW, it seems that the UN IPCC is in a bit of a bother over its future usefulness.
Anonymous said…
Re: The caption of the photo. When you are describing the comparative efficiencies of the new vs. old technology, from a nomenclature perspective would you say that you are dealing with a smelter delta?

Popular posts from this blog

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

New Home for Our Blog: Join Us on NEI.org

On February 27, NEI launched the new NEI.org. We overhauled the public site, framing all of our content around the National Nuclear Energy Strategy.

So, what's changed?

Our top priority was to put you, the user, first. Now you can quickly get the information you need. You'll enjoy visiting the site with its intuitive navigation, social media integration and compelling and shareable visuals. We've added a feature called Nuclear Now, which showcases the latest industry news and resources like fact sheets and reports. It's one of the first sections you'll see on our home page and it can be accessed anywhere throughout the site by clicking on the atom symbol in the top right corner of the page.
Most importantly for you, our loyal NEI Nuclear Notes readers, is that we've migrated the blog to the new site. Moving forward, all blog posts will be published in the News section, along with our press releases, Nuclear Energy Overview stories and more. Just look for the &qu…

Hurricane Harvey Couldn't Stop the South Texas Project

As Hurricane Harvey battered southeast Texas over the past week, the devastation and loss of life in its wake have kept our attention and been a cause of grief.

Through the tragedy, many stories of heroics and sacrifice have emerged. Among those who have sacrificed are nearly 250 workers who have been hunkered down at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear plant in Matagorda County, Texas.

STP’s priorities were always the safety of their employees and the communities they serve. We are proud that STP continued to operate at full power throughout the storm. It is a true testament to the reliability and resiliency of not only the operators but of our industry.

The world is starting to notice what a feat it is to have maintained operations through the catastrophic event. Forbes’ Rod Adams did an excellent job describing the contribution of these men and women:

“STP storm crew members deserve to be proud of the work that they are doing. Their families should take comfort in the fact that…