The pure form of aluminium does not naturally occur, but can be extracted using mainly bauxite and electricity. First bauxite ore, which contains aluminium, is mined and processed into alumina or aluminium oxide. Using electrolytic processes, pure aluminium is then isolated. In Europe, the aluminium sector is formed by 16 primary aluminium smelters in addition to the 101 refining plants and 120 remelting facilities by the secondary aluminium sector.
For primary aluminium producers, electricity costs represent between 22% and 29% of production costs. Primary aluminium producers across the world pay very different electricity prices, depending on their region. For example, in 2015 EU producers paid on average €42.44 /MWh, which is significantly more than producers in Canada, (€13.13 /MWh), Russia (€23.48 /MWh) or Norway and Iceland (€24.23 /MWh).
For the secondary European aluminium producers, the situation is not as critical. Many of the refineries compensate the competitive disadvantage on high energy prices by adding value to their products. For example, ETEKINA partner FAGOR EDERLAN is a leading global automotive supply specialist, offering complete product solutions for chassis and powertrain applications and expertise in high and low pressure aluminium injection, iron casting and machining for those automotive components.
Nevertheless, even to an aluminium automotive parts producer, it is important to keep a close eye on energy efficiency. With the ETEKINA prototype being designed and installed in one of their productions units, FAGOR EDERLAN expects to benefit not only from a direct cut in their energy costs, but also from applying the concept to many more of their production lines.