BBC discusses how Iceland is undoing carbon emissions for good.
The two red-and-white silos of the aluminium smelter at Straumsvík are conspicuous from afar to everyone travelling from Iceland’s international airport to the capital city, Reykjavík. These silos house a mineral called alumina, the raw material used to produce aluminium. The alumina makes its way via an automated system to potrooms – three grey, long, low-lying buildings – where the manufacture of aluminium happens. These potrooms are perhaps less noticeable than the towers, yet they are playing a crucial role in reducing Iceland’s carbon emissions.
Heavy industry in Iceland contributes 48% of the country’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to the Environment Agency of Iceland, excluding greenhouse gases from land use and forestry. Even though these industrial facilities run on renewable energy from hydroelectricity and geothermal power, CO2 is released as part of the process of producing metals like aluminium. The larger of the country’s industrial facilities produces silicon metals, which are used in steel manufacturing, as well as aluminium, much of which is exported and used in the automobile industry.