Aluminium manufacturer Novelis and Southern Company to power operations with 80MW solar portfolio

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The companies plan to build 80MW of solar capacity at the Bay Minette recycling facility. Image: Novelis and the Southern Company

US aluminium manufacturer Novelis has partnered with the Southern Company, an electric utility in the US, to build two new solar power plants in the US with a combined capacity of 80MW.

The Bay Minette facility, which is currently under construction in the state of Alabama, will be an aluminium recycling plant with an annual capacity of 600 kilotonnes of finished goods. The aluminium produced at the plant will be used in the container and automotive sectors, and is a US$2.5 billion investment, making the connected solar project a significant renewable investment made specifically for use in the industrial sector.

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“Partnering with Southern Company and [subsidiary] Alabama Power on renewable energy solutions, such as solar power, and exploring new technologies for carbon reduction will help us as we seek to meet our goals to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2026 and be carbon neutral by 2050 or sooner,” said Novelis vice-president of sustainability Suzanne Lindsay-Walker.

The project is a significant step towards the decarbonisation of Novelis’ operations in the US. While the company’s carbon footprint was 14% lower in the 2023 financial year than the 2022 financial year, Novelis’ facilities still produced 17.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and integrating renewable power production into its facilities will help further this trend.

The company also announced that, alongside the Southern Company, it is exploring projects for Bay Minette “as well as other Novelis sites in North America”, suggesting that the solar projects announced this week could function as a proof of concept for other integrated renewable power generation at the company’s facilities.

The news is the Southern Company’s latest involvement in the US solar sector, following acquisitions made by its subsidiary, Southern Power, earlier this year. The company acquired separate solar projects in Texas and Wyoming as it has sought to expand its solar portfolio, although the Novelis deal remains unique in that the Bay Minette solar project will generate power for a particular industrial facility.

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