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Smart EU action could unleash Billion Euro clean energy investment boom, says industrialist


Davos, Switzerland and Delfzijl, the Netherlands, January 23, 2020 – European industry stands ready to invest “billions of euros” in clean and sustainable production, providing the European Union can get on and agree on an industrial policy that will give genuine effect to its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050.

So says Chris McNamee, CEO of high quality aluminium producer Aldel, who, in a personal appeal to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the World Economic Forum at Davos, today calls on the European Union to stop prevaricating and set clear ground rules on the key areas of policy needed if industry is to deliver a green future.

Speaking on a WEF panel today, Chris McNamee said: “Industry has no problem raising the money. We know what needs to be done.  There are literally billions of euros of investment waiting to be unleashed, provided governments and particularly the EU, can take up the baton.”

Using his own industry as an example, aluminium producers have agreed an action plan to deliver a clean, carbon neutral future. But they need certainty over issues like carbon trading and a level playing field so they can compete fairly with “dirty” aluminium flooding Europe from low cost producers who are relying on coal generated electricity and outdated production methods.

 “Contrary to what many believe, there is a viable future for a European-based aluminium smelting industry focused on sustainability. But our efforts to achieve this risk being undermined by unfair competition from markets such as China and the Middle East, where there is polluting and heavily subsidised production flooding the market.

 “We know what needs to be done to create a sustainable future for an industry which lies at the heart of Europe’s ambitions for a truly circular economy. We are doing it. But if Europe is serious about countering climate change, then governments and the European Union need to act.”

Mr McNamee, in common with the European aluminium industry, is calling on the EU to recognize the importance of a viable aluminium sector to delivering its goal of sustainability.

In particular, with electricity accounting for up to 40% of the costs of producing the material, it is imperative that this be recognised as part of the ongoing revision to the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), through appropriate levels of compensation. He is also asking for the EU to clarify whether the current state-aid exemption for renewable energy which is due to expire this year will be renewed. Since being taken over by York Capital Management, a US investment firm, who have put in new management and significant new investment, Aldel is returning to profitability, has expanded production, taken on new staff and put in place an ambitious sustainability plan to secure the future.

  • Aldel is demonstrating how large energy users can play an important role in managing the challenges that the transition to volatile renewable energy sources poses to the stability of the electricity grid. It is investing heavily in transformative technologies and is already operating its smelter as a “virtual battery,” able to switch itself on and off in response to fluctuations in demand and supply. With conventional battery technology yet to prove itself as a viable solution to the issue of managing the mismatch between fluctuating demand and volatile renewable supply, and alternatives such as hydrogen fuel cells still too costly, this is a major  contribution which will be important for the success of the Green Deal. Aldel benefits from its smelter’s coastal location which puts it in close proximity to the vast offshore windfarms populating the North Sea.
  • Aluminium, unlike other materials commonly used in packaging and in the automotive and aviation industries, is 100% recyclable. It is also heavily used in the manufacturer of batteries for electric cars. As long as the electricity that smelters use comes from renewable sources, which in Europe is increasingly the case, it produces minimal CO2.
  • Aldel already operates one of the cleanest and most advanced smelters and is working hard to eliminate entirely both emissions and waste by-products. Today 100% of the fluoride emissions are captured and fed back to the process, and work is underway to integrate new advanced processes and control systems which will reduce or eliminate other emissions entirely.  

Mr McNamee added: “If you are serious about the climate emergency, this is an industry which has shown the way. Sustainability for us is not an add-on. For us, it is a question of survival in a very tough market. By focusing on a sustainable, environmentally sound business model, and applying new technologies to our processes, we are able to literally clean up our act.

“We have put our money where our hearts and mouth are, and we now have a thriving business. We have demonstrated that there is no contradiction between what is good for the environment and what is good for the bottom line. We have shown that we know what needs to be done to create a sustainable future for an industry which lies at the heart of Europe’s ambitions for a truly circular economy. If Europe is serious about countering climate change, then governments and the European Union needs to ensure a level playing field and eliminate environmental as well as social dumping. It is no good us being cleaner than clean, if we are merely exporting pollution and CO2 production to other countries. “

About Aldel

The decision to base an aluminium smelter in Delfzijl was based largely on the discovery of natural gas in 1959, an opportunity to develop employment for the local community plus the direct, open connection to the sea. Damco Aluminium Delfzijl Coöperatie U.A. (ALDEL) was originally founded by three large companies: Alusuisse, Billiton and Koninklijke Hoogovens. Over the course of the years, it has been through many changes both in ownership and people and from November 2017 it was bought out by Damco Aluminium Delfzijl Coöperatie U.A.

Aldel produces high quality aluminium alloys for the benefit of businesses and other aluminium processing companies in and outside Europe.

Chris McNamee is available in Davos for media interviews.

For further inquiries:

Andrew Garfield

Garfield Advisory Ltd

+44 7974 982337