Ever since Hydro started producing aluminium in 1963, hydropower has been a critical part of the process. You could almost say that hydropower was the reason why aluminium production could start up at all.
Hydro's first aluminium plant was established in Karmøy in 1963. We got power for the plant from the development of the Røldal-Suldal water system, which was constructed specifically to provide electricity to the aluminium smelter. Today there is a new research center at Hydro Karmøy, and the plant has meant a lot to both population growth and development of the community at large.
Hydropower + aluminium = success
The plant in Karmøy is a typical example of how hydropower and aluminium production has been a successful partnership throughout Hydro's history. Without Norway's unique hydropower history we could not have become one of the world's top aluminium nations.
Historically, aluminium smelters have been built near power plants to avoid energy loss. In the 1960s, however, new technology became available to transport energy over longer distances. So for example we could locate an aluminium plant in Karmøy even though the power source is further inland.
Being able to produce aluminium with clean energy is unique for Norway and one of the clear advantages of producing it right here.
Energy intensive production
Aluminium production is very energy intensive, meaning that a lot of electricity is used to produce the metal. So it is a great advantage to have enough energy resources available, and even better if they are reliable and climate friendly like hydropower.
When aluminium is produced using environmentally friendly hydropower, like in Norway, the CO2 emissions per tonne of aluminium are only one-fifth of those from a smelter operated with electricity from coal power plants, as is common for example in China.
Fifth largest in the world
Norway is the world's fifth largest producer of aluminium, and as much as 80-90% of the aluminium we produce is exported to the rest of the world.
The excellent supply of hydropower we have in Norway has thus helped to make Hydro one of the world's major producers of aluminium..
Hydropower - "Norway's white coal" - and aluminium production have also helped to transform many villages into modern industrial communities with jobs linked to Hydro's business operations..