Alcoa opted for an innovative solution: the power of solar

When Alcoa’s Deschambault aluminum smelter, near Québec City, wanted to improve the ventilation of its casting centre, where liquid aluminum is transformed into ingots, it seized the opportunity to innovate by installing a solar wall that generated energy savings and reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Seizing an opportunity

The aluminum smelter’s casting centre contains a number of natural gas furnaces that are used to process pure aluminum into alloy ingots, in particular for the automobile industry. A project was underway to improve the ventilation of this building.

Solar preheating : A brilliant solution

Known for its sustainable development leadership, Alcoa’s Deschambault aluminum smelter opted for an innovative solution—a solar wall in two parts with a total surface area of more than 700 square metres. By preheating outside air before distributing it in the building, the solar wall reconciles two important imperatives: improving the building’s ventilation and reducing the plant’s energy consumption and GHG emissions when it’s cold outside by means of preheated air.

GRANT
$200,000
from the Solar Preheating program

SAVINGS
650,000 m³
plus reduction in GHG emissions of 1,300 tons

Decisive financial assistance

A long-time partner of the aluminum smelter, Énergir guided Alcoa Deschambault toward a solar wall to meet its needs—a solution that harnesses clean and free renewable energy. It also supported Deschambault in their innovation process, allowing the client to benefit from a $200,000 Solar Preheating Grant under Énergir’s Energy Efficiency Program – Renewable Energy.

Effective, sustainable results

Combined with other energy efficiency measures, the solar wall, which was commissioned in June 2020, increased the fresh air supply by more than 25% and will save more than 650,000 cubic metres of natural gas a year (a more than 70% reduction), while chopping GHG emissions by more than 1,300 tonnes.

Thanks to the solar wall and the other energy efficiency measures we’ve implemented, we no longer need to heat until it’s -2°C outside. That’s a significant improvement with tangible repercussions on employee well-being and our energy bill.

Alexandre Dubreuil, Environment Administrator at Alcoa’s Deschambault aluminum smelter

Receive up to $200,000

The grant provided by Énergir for the solar air or water preheating program can reach up to $200,000. Énergir will pay $2 per cubic metre of natural gas saved toward the purchase and installation of a solar collector connected to a natural gas equipment.

Eligible solar thermal collectors list (PDF)

Photos : Alcoa’s Deschambault aluminum smelter