Aluminium firms battle to meet greenhouse gas goal

BRUSSELS Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:03am EST

BRUSSELS Feb 12 (Reuters) - The aluminium industry is struggling to meet its own voluntary targets to cut greenhouse gases in its smelting process, but future technology could bring better results, an industry conference heard on Tuesday.

The aluminium industry has set up voluntary targets to cut direct greenhouse gas emissions from its production processes by cutting the amount of energy used in production by 2010.

"But the challenge to meet the 2010 goal remains," independent consultant Jerry Marks told a Metal Bulletin conference in Brussels.

Marks works together with the International Aluminium Institute (IAI), which represents more than 70 percent of global aluminium production.

"One of IAI's voluntary objectives is to produce one tonne of primary aluminium using 14.5 megawatt hours of energy," he said, pointing to some older smelters using around 19 MWh/t.

"Current best practice for smelters that are being installed today is considerably less -- it is about 13 MWh," Marks said.

However, the aluminium industry had met the target of reducing one of the most critical greenhouse gases, perfluorocarbon (PFC), by 78 percent by 2005 from the baseline scenario in 1990.

Total greenhouse gas emissions from aluminium smelters had also been reduced during the same period.

"This is good news as primary production increased by 64 percent from 1990 through 2005," Marks said.

Production was seen increasing further to 62 million tonnes of primary aluminium by 2020 from 31 million tonnes in 2005.

With production doubling it would be difficult for the industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but Marks said new inert materials could potentially replace carbon anode in the future production processes and totally reduce CO2 emissions.

(Editing by Chris Johnson)