Abstract

Aluminum production is a major energy consumer and important source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. Estimation of the energy consumption and GHG emissions caused by aluminum production in China has attracted widespread attention because China produces more than half of the global aluminum. This paper conducted life cycle (LC) energy consumption and GHG emissions analysis of primary and recycled aluminum in China for the year 2020, considering the provincial differences on both the scale of self-generated electricity consumed in primary aluminum production and the generation source of grid electricity. Potentials for energy saving and GHG emissions reductions were also investigated. The results indicate that there are 157,207 MJ of primary fossil energy (PE) consumption and 15,947 kg CO2-eq of GHG emissions per ton of primary aluminum ingot production in China, with the LC GHG emissions as high as 1.5–3.5 times that of developed economies. The LC PE consumption and GHG emissions of recycled aluminum are very low, only 7.5% and 5.3% that of primary aluminum, respectively. Provincial-level results indicate that the LC PE and GHG emissions intensities of primary aluminum in the main production areas are generally higher while those of recycled aluminum are lower in the main production areas. LC PE consumption and GHG emissions can be significantly reduced by decreasing electricity consumption, self-generated electricity management, low-carbon grid electricity development, and industrial relocation. Based on this study, policy suggestions for China’s aluminum industry are proposed. Recycled aluminum industry development, restriction of self-generated electricity, low-carbon electricity utilization, and industrial relocation should be promoted as they are highly helpful for reducing the LC PE consumption and GHG emissions of the aluminum industry. In addition, it is recommended that the central government considers the differences among provinces when designing and implementing policies.

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