Net-Zero by 2050: Science-based Decarbonisation Pathways for the European Aluminium Industry

14 Nov 2023

The European aluminium industry plays a vital role in supplying clean technologies but needs to decarbonise faster. Our study ‘Net-zero by 2050: Science-Based Decarbonisation Pathways for the European Aluminium Industry‘ provides a roadmap for reducing emissions while sustaining growth. Explore the findings and policy suggestions in this blog.

Background & Context:

The European aluminium industry, an energy-intensive yet crucial sector in the transition to a decarbonised economy, emits approximately 24 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually. Essential for clean technologies like solar PV and electric vehicles, the industry faces a projected 30% increase in demand by 2040. Aligning with the EU’s goal to use domestically sourced materials for 40% of its consumption, the industry is committed to sustainable growth without exacerbating global emissions.

Our Study:

In collaboration with Ramboll, we developed a study to guide the European aluminium industry towards reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. This study aims to align with the IPCC’s 1.5°C scenario and offers a comprehensive perspective on the industry’s commitment to decarbonisation by 2050. Key objectives include: • Demonstrating the industry’s dedication to operational decarbonisation. • Balancing positive aspects of aluminium usage with insights into production and manufacturing stages. • Providing a sectoral framework for member companies to establish their decarbonisation pathways. • Offering policy recommendations to create an enabling environment for achieving a 1.5°C aligned trajectory.

Key findings:

• The report sets an ambitious goal to achieve a 92.4% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, relative to the levels recorded in 2021.

• The shift towards using electric-powered technologies in key areas of the aluminium industry, including alumina refining and smelting processes, is key to facilitating decarbonisation.

• The report identifies the importance of key technologies such as electric furnaces and inert anodes, detailing their commercial readiness and anticipated deployment years.

• There is an expected significant rise in the demand for low-carbon electricity, highlighting the need for more renewable energy generation.

• Substantial investments are required for decarbonising the industry, particularly in developing new smelter facilities equipped with modern technology.

The Role of Policy:

The journey to net-zero emissions is a collaborative effort that requires strong policy support. Based on the findings of the report, European Aluminium has identified four critical policy areas to facilitate the industry’s transition:

  1. Decarbonisation of Power Generation: Policymakers must accelerate the shift to clean energy sources while ensuring competitiveness and affordability.
  2. Investment in R&D: Prioritising and increasing investments in research and development for low-carbon technologies will drive innovation and progress.
  3. Recycling Incentives: Policymakers can play a role in promoting scrap recovery and recycling through incentives and regulations.
  4. Supporting Low-Carbon Production: Policy frameworks should encourage and facilitate the development of low-carbon and circular production capacity within Europe.


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