German aluminium industry threatened by energy crisis

German aluminium industry threatened by energy crisis

Image: Mediamodifier / Pexels

The production of aluminium in Germany fell significantly in some cases in the second quarter of 2022, according to Aluminium Deutschland (AD).

With a decline of 23%, the production of raw aluminium shrank particularly sharply. After the first half of 2022, this figure fell by about a fifth (-21%) to 448,000 tonnes. The price of electricity has recently reached a new record level and poses existential challenges for electricity-intensive aluminium smelters in Germany in particular.

At 675,000 tonnes, the production volume in the semi-finished products sector in the second quarter was slightly below the level of the same period of the previous year (-1%). Among them, however, the manufacturers of extruded aluminium products recorded a decline of 4%, while the production of rolled products remained stable (±0%). In the year to date, the semi-finished product manufacturers have achieved a total volume of 1.34 million tonnes (±0%).

Dr Hinrich Mählmann, president of Aluminium Deutschland, emphasised: “If we do not find a solution to the energy crisis in a timely manner, there will soon be no more aluminium smelters in Germany. They are acutely threatened. It is imperative that this industrial base be preserved. From painful experience, we know the consequences of too much dependence on important raw materials and raw materials. The Green Deal remains the important challenge and aluminium is a key to the decarbonisation of the entire industrial supply chain. Creeping deindustrialisation means a shift to regions with significantly lower social and environmental standards – with corresponding consequences for the climate. That’s why we shouldn’t be sawing at the branch we’re sitting on.”

Gas levy ensures high additional burden

For the non-ferrous metal industry, the recently decided gas levy will result in additional costs of almost €300 million. About two-thirds of this is accounted for by the aluminium industry. Especially in the case of gas-intensive companies, such as the recycling companies that are so important for reducing CO 2 emissions, this results in additional costs that quickly go into the five-digit euro range per employee. Mählmann continues: “The gas levy is basically a necessary instrument to secure Germany’s supply. However, their concrete design should be reconsidered. Politicians now have a responsibility not to knock over the second domino with the gas-intensive industry after supporting the first. Extending the levy over time, as demanded by the entire industry, would be a first step. In addition, One should think in Berlin about using the over-tax revenues that the state achieves through the high energy prices to provide relief. The already heavily burdened companies experience an additional disadvantage in international competition as a result of the levy.”