LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Hydro is aiming to cut the carbon footprint of some of its aluminium to near zero by 2030 with technologies including renewable energy and carbon capture storage (CCS), the CEO of one of the world's largest aluminium producers told Reuters.
Aluminium was recently included on the European Union's critical raw material list due to it being a key material for the energy transition. It is used to reduce the weight of electric vehicles which helps extend driving range.
However, smelting aluminium is a process that needs large amounts of electricity, making it extremely carbon intensive.
In China, reliance on coal to produce power means one metric ton of aluminium can involve emitting up to 20 tons of carbon, while in Europe the number is less than seven tons.
At the 118-year-old Norwegian aluminium producer, one ton of primary aluminium entails emitting less than four tons of carbon.
Hydro's plan to cut CO2 emissions to half a ton per ton for some of its primary aluminium by 2030 will build on an initiative started in 2020.
"The green transition is driving aluminium demand, but it's a dilemma because in order to be sustainable in the long term aluminium has to be produced with the lowest carbon footprint," said Hydro Chief Executive Hilde Merete Aasheim.
"We are working on our CCS technology and we will start replacing fuel oil with gas in Brazil at the start of next year. We are also working to bring more renewable energy to Brazil."
Hydro's operations in Brazil comprise the bauxite mine Paragominas and its alumina refinery Alunorte. Alumina is a feedstock for aluminium also used widely in the construction and packaging industries.
Its energy unit known as Hydro Rein will, with joint venture partners, supply electricity to its Brazilian operations. Rein has three renewable projects in Brazil and one in Sweden which will eventually supply 6.9 gigawatts of electricity.
Hydro Rein will get a $332 million cash injection from the joint venture with Macquarie Asset Management, expected to be effective by June 30 next year.
Hydro is also planning to increase investment in recycled or secondary aluminium, which uses 95% less energy than primary. (Reporting by Pratima Desai Editing by Mark Potter)