Aluminium helps cut greenhouse gas emissions

The aluminium industry can be CO2 positive in a decade’s time. Reduced emissions from recycling, as well as the use of aluminium in automotive, buildings and in solar energy, will more than offset CO2 emissions from primary aluminium production.

June 22, 2010

In his presentation to the international aluminium conference in Oslo Tuesday, Hydro President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg explained how solutions based on aluminium can enhance energy efficiency and cut emissions in key areas of society, such as transport and buildings.

Brandtzæg made one of the keynote speeches at the 15th World Aluminium Conference organized by the independent business analysis and consultancy group CRU, organized in Oslo for the first time.

More than 250 participants from all over the world are in Oslo to listen to presentations and take part in discussions on trends in the aluminium industry, with energy and climate issues high on the agenda.

The conference was officially opened by Trond Giske, the Norwegian minister for trade and industry.

Aluminium is used by the automotive industry in order to achieve weight reductions. Energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles primarily result from the use, not its production. Lighter vehicles thus contribute to reduced energy consumption and emissions compared to heavier vehicles. Analyses show that 1 kg aluminium replacing about 2 kg steel or iron will cut CO2 emissions by 21 kg of CO2-equivalents over the lifespan of the car. Globally, this "lightweighting" can result in a reduction of some 500 million tonnes CO2-equivalents in 2020.

The bumper systems for the Reneault Megane are made from aluminium, allowing a weight reduction of 7 kg per car. With an annual production of this model of 800,000 cars, the bumper weight reduction alone contributes a reduction of 800,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalents. The reduced fuel consumption offsets some 13,000 gasoline trucks!

Car manufacturing is expected to grow significantly, at the same time as the amount of aluminium in each car is increasing. This is one of the strong drivers behind the expected increase in the world demand for aluminium. Brandtzæg referred to analysis pointing to an increase in the aluminium demand of 76 percent from 2010 to 2020, up to approximately 68 million tonnes. In the same time frame, because of its contribution to reduced CO2 emissions from the end users, the aluminium industry will reduce its carbon footprint and turn CO2 positive.

The buildings represent close to 40 percent of the total global energy consumption. New solutions allowing more energy-efficient buildings, can lead to significant reductions. Hydro provides solutions already now allowing buildings to be energy neutral, producing as much energy as they consume on average. Further, the expected increase in aluminium recycling, a process only requiring five percent of the energy that goes into primary aluminium production, add to energy efficiency.

The Hydro CEO also informed that Hydro is developing new technologies aimed at reducing energy consumption in primary aluminium production by 25 percent at the same time as the new technology will be ready to capture the CO2 emissions in order to store it and not release it at all.

Updated: October 11, 2016