Climate protection – protecting our basic living conditions

The reduction of greenhouse gases and protection of the Earth’s atmosphere are among the priorities when striving to achieve sustainable development. The aluminium industry is part of the solution. Continual process improvements and extremely light products play a key role here.

Renewable energy on the rise

The large amount of energy initially needed to produce aluminium means the necessary energy must be made available ecologically and at the same time economically. Primary aluminium smelters are built at locations where there is a reliable supply of energy. The power supply for the smelters in Africa, America and Europe is mainly based on hydroelectric power. Other smelters, for example in the Gulf region, operate using electricity generated from gas, the locally available energy source. In yet other regions, locally available fossil fuels are used to generate the electricity required.

Germany has introduced the concept of using the electrolysis process as a ‘virtual battery’. This means the power supply to the electrolysis process will be made more flexible: if wind turbines and photovoltaic units are producing enough electricity to supply the national grid, electrolysis will be carried out at full power. Renewable energy will thus be used efficiently and emissions will be reduced. If, however, there is not enough energy available to supply the grid, for example when there is calm or a solar eclipse, the electrolysis plant will be shut down temporarily. In this case, the electrolysis plant acts like a battery and stabilises the grid.

Electricity supply for electrolysis

Diagram showing the sources of the electricity used for electrolysis by region (status: 2015).

Photo: International Aluminium Institute

Life-cycle assessments

Using the right packaging to prevent climate change

Comparing the transport of beverages makes it clear that compared with returnable glass bottles the use of aluminium stand-up pouches means almost twice as much content can be transported within the same space; emissions can thus be reduced considerably.


Interesting fact

GDA library

Books and articles of relevance to aluminium have been collected since the 1930s. The GDA library is open to the public and besides literature on aluminium it also contains information on magnesium and titanium. The library's archives contain one of the most extensive collections of information on aluminium.


Environmental management

Responsibility for the environment

Bauxite mining areas are rehabilitated systematically by the aluminium industry. Some 70 per cent of the area is reforested, 20 per cent is used for forestry or agricultural purposes and ten per cent is developed for residential, recreational and industrial areas.