A climate think tank, Ember says for Beijing to be on track to meet its carbon pledges, China’s aluminium industry must shut down dedicated power capacity equivalent to more than Germany’s entire coal fleet over the next decade.
In 2020, China produced 37 million tonnes of aluminium, half of the world’s production. President Xi Jinping promised that China would achieve peak emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.
In a report, Ember says China’s record aluminium production last year emitted more C02 than some countries, including Indonesia and Brazil.
The report further highlighted that China needs to shut down around 47 gigawatts of inefficient, subcritical coal power capacity dedicated to aluminium over the next ten years or so. It is an effort for the country to be carbon-neutral by mid-century. For reference, Germany used 42 GW of coal power in total.
The author of the report, Muyi Yang, says that China’s aluminium manufacturers have relied for a long time on “captive” off-grid power generation systems for energy-intensive smelting, with self-producing units accounting for approximately 65 per cent of the power they use.
However, the government is pushing them to use smoother electricity sources and join China’s long-awaited emissions trading regime in a low carbon aluminium power plant.
In recent years, significant aluminium capacity migration into Yunnan with abundant hydropower resources has taken place. The smelters should use cleaner electricity if they have the resources. However, they can also aim to improve the efficiency of production as China should promote a more economical use of aluminium.
Ember further says a third of 45 per cent of China’s inefficient captive coal capacity or 17 GW comes from the top private sector producer China Hongqiao Group. It moved the capacity of one of the smelters to Yunnan. However, when Reuters requested for comments, the organisation did not respond immediately.