BMW has signed up as the world’s first user of ‘solar aluminium’ made using power from a giant PV plant in the Dubai Desert.

The German automotive giant agreed a supply deal with Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) for 43,000 tonnes of its new CelestiAL brand of the lightweight metal, billed as the first to be commercially produced using solar.

BMW reckons it will reduce its emissions by 220,000 tonnes of CO2 annually by using the green metal, which is made in a foundry taking power from the massive Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.

The “three-digit-million-euro” deal will account for half the annual needs of its Plant Landshut light-metal casting facility, where components including cylinder heads and crankcases, and vehicle body parts are made.

Automotive is among a clutch of heavy industries seeking to decarbonise its operations in response to policy directives and internal corporate green goals.

Aluminium, with its ability to reduce weight, is a key part of the sector’s drive to reduce consumption of fuel, and with the rise of electric vehicles, power. But the metal’s energy-intensive production process has until the last few years been linked to fossil sources.

Previous power deals between the metals industry and renewable sources have focused on wind, including a 1.65TWh 2018 deal for Swedish output struck by aluminium producer Norsk Hydro that was seen as a pioneer of the sector.

Andreas Wendt, BMW board member for Purchasing and Supplier Network, said: “Aluminium plays an important role in e-mobility and using sustainably produced aluminium is tremendously important to our company."

EGA claimed a global first in January when it signed a corporate power supply deal with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the operator of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum plant that’s one of the world’s largest renewable energy projects.

The solar project already has 1GW in place and is due to hit 5GW by 2030 using a mix of PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) technology.