"Efficient energy use is very important for our competitiveness. With new technology and solutions within energy efficiency, we see it is possible to cut even more of the electricity consumption in the smelters. This reduces the need for power and gives an environmental benefit both for Hydro and for Norway," says Ola Sæter, Head of Hydro's aluminium plants.
The new energy efficiency measures will be implemented in different steps. The smelters will first increase the pace of replacing older lighting with LED lights. At the same time, a system that regulates lighting based on needs and movement will be implemented. The system can provide up to 90 percent energy savings compared to traditional lighting. In addition to reduced energy consumption, it provides better light quality, which is important for both the working environment and safety.
On the road to net zero
Since 1990, Hydro in Norway has reduced its own CO2 emissions by 55 percent and at the same time cut electricity consumption per tonne of aluminium produced. However, in the next few years, Hydro will still need significant amounts of new renewable power for its aluminium plants. For Hydro, power contracts of more than 5 TWh will expire in 2030. These power contracts must be replaced.
At the same time, Hydro is investing heavily in the development of new technology, including a new and groundbreaking zero-emission technology for aluminium, which is also energyintensive.
"Our goal is clear. We are going all the way to zero and producing emission-free aluminium. It requires more power, but also that we leave no stone unturned and look at measures to reduce consumption along the entire value chain," says Sæter.
Over the past year, Hydro has produced its first volumes of near-zero carbon aluminium from recycled post-consumer scrap and started testing carbon capture in Sunndal. At the same time, new solutions are also being developed for both green hydrogen and biogas as a replacement for fossil energy sources.
"Many of our climate measures will require more electricity. Hydro is both a major electricity producer and consumer. We will therefore upgrade our own power production, develop new renewable power ourselves and implement comprehensive energy efficiency measures," says Sæter.
Small measures with a large effect
Hydro's renewable energy company Hydro Rein will carry out the roll-out of the new energy efficiency measures in cooperation with the five plants.
"Both energy efficiency improvements and local energy production are important contributions to free up grid capacity and at the same time making more power available. Hydro Rein offers various energy solutions to help the industry optimize power consumption. As an example, we will use existing data in a better way so the plants can more easily measure individual measures and know whether they have an energy saving effect. We look forward to contributing to this important work for Hydro's plants in Norway," says Marianne Wergeland Jenssen, Head of Energy Solutions in Hydro Rein.
The replacement of smart LED lights in the large production halls can contribute to total savings of 50 GWh at Hydro's plants in Sunndal, Årdal, Høyanger, Karmøy and Husnes. Hydro's Vigelands Brug aluminium plant in Vennesla, which produces very high purity aluminium, has been the pilot for the project. The plants are also working on measures to reduce compressed air consumption as well as energy-efficient pump and fan operations, which constitute the remaining 50 GWh of savings.
In the long run, these initiatives could contribute to further savings of 150-200 GWh towards 2030. In addition, Hydro is working on heat recovery from production processes. This is a long-term effort in which Hydro will join forces with external partners who can make use of the available surplus heat.
Hydro Rein is a leading provider of renewable energy solutions to industrials, fully owned by the global renewable energy and aluminium company Hydro. Hydro Rein has a diversified portfolio of 26 projects under development in core markets in the Nordics and Brazil. The company has an ambition of 3GW in construction or operation (gross) by 2026, leveraging on a unique customer offering and Hydro’s century long track record in building industries that matter.
In addition to building solar and wind power, Hydro Rein works with energy efficiency, energy optimization and battery solutions. In addition, the company is looking at opportunities to develop more local energy production inside Hydro's and other industrial players' plants.