Future PM2.5 emissions from metal production to meet renewable energy demand

Rathod, S.D., Bond, T.C., Klimont, Z. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2630-198X, Pierce, J.R., Mahowald, N., Roy, C., Thompson, J., Scott, R.P., et al. (2022). Future PM2.5 emissions from metal production to meet renewable energy demand. Environmental Research Letters 17 (4) e044043. 10.1088/1748-9326/ac5d9c.

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A shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy is crucial in limiting global temperature increase to 2 °C above preindustrial levels. However, renewable energy technologies, solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, and electric vehicles are metal-intensive, and the mining and smelting processes to obtain the needed metals are emission-intensive. We estimate the future PM2.5 emissions from mining and smelting to meet the metal demand of renewable energy technologies in two climate pathways to be 0.3–0.6 Tg yr−1 in the 2020–2050 period, which are projected to contribute 10%–30% of total anthropogenic primary PM2.5 combustion emissions in many countries. The concentration of mineral reserves in a few regions means the impacts are also regionally concentrated. Rapid decarbonization could lead to a faster reduction of overall anthropogenic PM2.5 emissions but also could create more unevenness in the distributions of emissions relative to where demand occurs. Options to reduce metal-related PM2.5 emissions by over 90% exist and are well understood; introducing policy requiring their installation could avoid emission hotspots.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Integrated Assessment and Climate Change (IACC)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Pollution Management (PM)
Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2022 10:23
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2022 12:46
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/17907

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