BMW Solar Aluminum

BMW is beginning to source a large portion of the aluminum used at its light metal foundry in Landshut, Germany from a supplier relying on solar power for production. Emirates Global Aluminum (EGA), based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has been supplying BMW with primary aluminum since 2013, which is used for the manufacture of cast parts ranging from cylinder heads and electric drivetrain components to core structural body parts. Now, a portion of the aluminum EGA supplies to BMW is to be produced exclusively using solar power sourced from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park located near Dubai, which is nearing completion.

EGA has branded their solar-produced premium aluminum as CelestiAL. More specifically a low-carbon aluminum alloy, BMW is the first customer, and EGA is the first company to use solar electricity for the production of aluminum. According to BMW, sourcing the equivalent of 47,000 tons of “solar aluminum” will supply nearly half of the required annual input at BMW Group Plant Landshut.

BMW Solar Aluminum

BMW Group Plant Landshut, the location of BMW’s light metal foundry in Europe, employs a staff of 1,600 and produced 2,900,000 cast components in 2020. The scope of production ranges from engine internals such as cylinder heads and crank cases, to electric drive components, and structural pieces for vehicle bodies, among many other items.

BMW describes the facility at Landshut as, “one of the most state-of-the-art foundries in the world.” In addition to being technologically advanced, the foundry’s sustainable operations practices were certified by the Aluminum Stewardship initiative in December 2019. The cutting edge and highly innovative production processes used at the foundry have been recognized with numerous awards over the years. Among other methods, the foundry shapes sand cores to use in the casting process. The sand cores themselves are made using inorganic binders, which makes the process almost completely emissions free. The effort in sourcing solar-produced aluminum for the foundry will help BMW meet its ambitious carbon emissions reduction goals.

EGA is also a member of the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative and has more than 400 customers in over 50 countries. In 2019, the company sold nearly 2,900,000 tones of cast metal. For the specific CelestiAL aluminum destined for BMW’s foundry, power is sourced from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park near Dubai, which is certified by independent parties ensuring the power it delivers to clients such as EGA is traceable and transparent.

BMW’s transition to using sustainably produced aluminum will allow the automaker to avoid approximately 2,800,000 tons of carbon emissions over the next decade, or about 3% of the company’s goal for its supplier network.—Alex Tock

BMW Solar Aluminum

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]

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