Aluminium metal is reactive and does not exist in nature; it is produced from the ore Bauxite via an intermediate compound alumina (aluminium oxide). Alumina is in turn refined into aluminium using the Hall–Héroult process (electrolysis) first developed in the 1880's. Aluminium production is therefore an energy-intensive process, consuming for example approximately 5 percent of electricity generated in the United States.
Aluminium production could be an interruptible electricity demand for renewable electricity - if the producer is given sufficient incentive to operate intermittently i.e. by offering the electricity at low cost. Aluminium is an alternative to steel (steel manufacture produces large amounts of CO2) and could displace steel use in sectors like
- Food packaging (canning)