SAFE Applauds Department of Energy’s Historic Investment in Advanced Industrial Projects

DOE grant will spur first U.S. primary aluminum smelter in decades, potentially doubling U.S. capacity 

Washington, D.C.–SAFE applauds the Department of Energy Office of Clean Energy Demonstration Project’s (OCED) announcement of finalists for the $6 billion Industrial Demonstrations Program allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. OCED’s grants are accompanied by $14 billion in private sector funding for a $20 billion total advanced industry decarbonization effort.

“This funding is an essential step to revitalize our industrial base and help America lead again on advanced manufacturing in energy intensive industries,” said Robbie Diamond, Founder, President and CEO of SAFE. “These grants help ensure we have autonomy and supply security of the industrial materials necessary for our defense and energy infrastructure, countering the influence of foreign entities seeking to undermine us through commodity price manipulation or other anticompetitive tactics. We can lead on advanced manufacturing with high environmental standards and reap the benefits of owning our own destiny in materials, metals, and energy.”

Century Aluminum is among the finalists, and will build the first new domestic aluminum smelter in 45 years. The project will combine process efficiencies with carbon-free energy for an estimated 75% reduction in energy usage compared to conventional smelting.

It is difficult to overstate the potential significance of this award for the American aluminum industry,” said Joe Quinn, Director of the Center for Strategic Industrial Materials (C-SIM) at SAFE. “A new domestic smelter puts the U.S. back in the game and reverses our dangerous, decades-long decline in primary aluminum production. The Biden administration is now appropriately prioritizing the ‘miracle metal’ as part of our reindustrialization strategy. This is an important first step but our work is far from over.”

SAFE’s C-SIM has published several reports building the case for bolstering domestic aluminum capacity. The United States was the leading primary aluminum producer in the world in 2000; it is currently the ninth. There were 23 U.S. smelters in 1993 but as of January 2024 there are only four in operation; the vast majority of the world’s aluminum is produced in Asia, Russia, and the Middle East.

U.S. smelting capacity has diminished considerably over the decades: C-SIM’s analysis has shown the largest U.S. smelter is in Warrick, IN with 269k metric ton capacity—only one-third of which is currently operational. The next three largest smelters—Intalco, WA at 279k MT; New Madrid, MO at 263k MT; and Hawesville, KY at 252k MT—have all closed in the last 18 months.

Aluminum is critical to economic and national security due to its defense, aerospace, electricity, and transportation uses. The demand for aluminum will continue to accelerate as the U.S. economy transitions to mass adoption of electric vehicles and other clean energy systems that depend on it, furthering the case for secure and sustainable domestic supply.


About SAFE
SAFE is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization committed to transportation, energy, and supply chain policies that advance the economic and national security of the United States, its partners, and allies. SAFE has convened business and former military leaders since 2004 to support secure, resilient, and sustainable energy solutions. Visit to learn more.