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Former Australian PM and Alcoa COO appointed to solar energy company advisory board

Image from GlassPoint.

GlassPoint, a New York-based firm that specializes in decarbonizing the production of materials essential to the energy transition, announced Wednesday that the former Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, and the former COO of Alcoa, Tomas Sigurdsson, have joined its advisory board.

Turnbull and Sigurdsson will play a role in helping GlassPoint bring its solar steam solution to help industries essential to the energy transition achieve net-zero commitments, with a focus on mining, metals and manufacturing, the company said.

Of the world’s top miners, 28 have committed to a goal of net zero direct and indirect carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner, according to the International Council on Mining and Metals. The new advisors join the board at a time when mining companies are increasingly seeking ways to cost-effectively reduce carbon emissions and meet net-zero commitments with rapidly approaching deadlines.

Before his term as the 29th Prime Minister of Australia, Turnbull held a number of parliamentary positions, including Minister for Environment and Water Resources. Before entering parliament in 2004 he was a trial lawyer and investment banker, where he led his own investment firm and served as a partner of Goldman Sachs.

“The world can’t meet its net-zero pledges unless industrial players make enormous leaps in decarbonizing operations,” Turnbull said in a media statement. “Consider that it’s common for large industrial plants to require more energy than many cities, much of which goes to thermal processes. Solutions like GlassPoint, which help hard-to-abate industries reduce emissions up to 80% and are available today, will play a major role in combating climate change.”

Tomas Sigurdsson is CEO of HS Orka, a private renewable energy company in Iceland. He was formerly COO and executive vice president of Alcoa, producer of aluminum, alumina and bauxite. Sigurdsson was responsible for the daily operations of global assets of the company’s bauxite, alumina, energy and aluminum segments across geographies. He previously served as president of Alcoa EU and ME.

“Throughout my career, I have been deeply involved in energy solutions for the industry, both from the demand as well as the supply side,” Sigurdsson said in an email to MINING.com.

“The ultimate goal has always been to drive the adoption of proven sustainable solutions. The energy transition in the industry will happen with multiple different solutions and with industrial steam being such a big part of global energy consumption, I firmly believe that GlassPoint’s offering will be transformational to a number of industries,” Sigurdsson said.

Sigurdsson said GlassPoint is different from the typical solar energy company in that it doesn’t capture the sun’s rays to transform it into an electric current.

“Instead, [it] uses giant mirrors to focus sunlight to generate heat. Mirrors track the sun and direct its energies on pipes filled with water,” he said. “This concentrated sunlight boils the water, yielding steam in a process that generates no hydrocarbons. This steam is then used for a wide range of industrial processes that require heat. This is a huge market as nearly 74% of all energy used in industry is in the form of heat.”

The news comes after GlassPoint signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Arabian Mining company MA’ADEN to develop the world’s largest solar process heat plant at MA’ADEN’s Alumina refinery, a 1.5GWth facility in Ras al Khair.

When complete, Sigurdsson said, the 1,500-megawatt facility will help the Saudi mining enterprise achieve its sustainability goals by reducing carbon emissions by more than 600,000 tons annually, or 4% of its overall carbon footprint.