International Aluminum Institute outlines three ‘pathways’ for aluminum sector to reduce emissions

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Aluminum production

Alexander Chudaev/Adobe Stock

The International Aluminum Institute published a report outlining how the aluminum industry can reduce its emissions.

Manufacturers of metals are increasingly under pressure to modernize their production processes and make them “greener.”

In recent coverage, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns has touched on China’s latest Five-Year Plan and its environmental implications for the country’s massive steel and aluminum sectors. Producers in Europe, meanwhile, have argued the continent’s stricter environmental standards and regulations put it at a competitive disadvantage.

On the other hand, decarbonizing and becoming “greener” is also becoming more and more of a branding opportunity.

“Rusal is at the forefront of promoting its primary metal as coming wholly from renewable (hydroelectric) sources,” Burns wrote last September. “European metals producers may not have such a clear advantage in terms of power supply.”

So, what does the industry need to do to keep up with the times and meet emissions targets?

Find more insight on MetalMiner’s LinkedIn.

IAI underscores three pathways to reducing emissions

The International Aluminum Institute recently outlined what it called three “pathways” for the aluminum sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In its report, the International Aluminum Institute outlined “realistic approaches” to emissions reductions. The Institute outlined the approaches in line with the International Energy Agency’s Beyond 2 Degree Scenario.

“While the industry works to reduce its emissions by about 80%, demand for aluminium products is also predicted to grow,” the International Aluminum Institute said in the report, titled Aluminium Sector Greenhouse Gas Pathways to 2050. “Over the coming decades, global demand for primary aluminium will increase by up to 40% and recycled aluminium from post-consumer scrap will more than triple through to 2050, as economies grow, urbanise, and build up their infrastructure.”

Decarbonizing electricity

The first pathway listed in the report is the decarbonization of electricity.

“More than sixty percent of the aluminium sector’s 1.1 billion tonnes of CO2e emissions (2018) are from the production of electricity consumed during the smelting process,” the International Aluminum Institute noted. “Decarbonised power generation and the deployment of carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) offer the most significant opportunity to reduce emissions to near zero by 2050.”

Direct emissions

In addition, the International Aluminum Institute advised that emissions from fuel combustion account for 15% of the aluminum industry’s emissions.

Electrification, switching to green hydrogen and carbon capture utilization and storage offer the “most credible” pathways, IAI stated.

Increasing collection rates

Third, the IAI emphasized augmenting collection rates to 100%. Doing so could cut the need for primary aluminum by 20% over the next three decades.

As a result, a decline in primary aluminum output would naturally lead to a reduction in sector emissions. According to the International Aluminum Institute analysis, that could mean a decline of 300 million tonnes of CO2e per year.

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