Aluminium production is highly energy-intensive, with electricity making up a large share of the energy consumed. Given the high level of electricity consumed in the aluminium subsector, power sector decarbonisation is a key complement to emissions reduction efforts in aluminium.
Global aluminium production is expected to continue expanding, driven by population and GDP growth. Clean energy transitions will also impact aluminium demand, with potential for upward pressure from technology shifts that require greater use of aluminium, e.g. for lightweight vehicles and solar energy (which uses aluminium for various components).
Material efficiency strategies can help maximise the collection of post-consumer scrap to enable greater secondary production and reduce the total amount of metal used while delivering the same services.
Meanwhile, R&D is needed on innovative alternative production methods that reduce primary production process and combustion emissions, and more energy-efficient equipment and operations would be beneficial.
Given the considerable amount of electricity consumed in the aluminium subsector, decarbonising its power sources would help reduce indirect emissions and is thus a key complement to reducing direct aluminium emissions.
Last updated Jan 6, 2022
Direct CO2 intensity of aluminium production in the Net Zero Scenario, 2018-2030
Emissions intensity of aluminium production must decline
The direct CO2 intensity of aluminium production remained relatively flat during the past couple of years. In the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, however, emissions intensity declines 3% annually to 2030. Getting on track with this scenario will require improved end-of-life scrap collection and sorting to enable greater production from scrap and further development of new technologies to reduce emissions from primary production.
Governments can stimulate action by better coordinating aluminium scrap collection and sorting, funding RD&D and adopting mandatory CO2 emissions reduction policies.