Emirates Global Aluminium and GE Gas Power have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop ways for the metal producer to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

The aluminum producer says it is the largest non-oil or -gas industrial business in the United Arab Emirates, selling 2.52 million metric tons of cast metal in 2020 and the country’s only aluminum producer. It says electricity generation for its facilities accounts for a significant proportion of its GHG emissions. 

The firm has 33 GE natural gas turbines with a total 5,200 MW capacity to power its aluminum smelters in Jebel Ali, Dubai. and Al Taweelah, Abu Dhabi, plus a refinery at Al Taweelah. The companies will develop a “roadmap” to decarbonize the turbines, possibly by using hydrogen to replace natural gas for fuel, in tandem with other tactics like carbon capture, utilization and storage in its power plants.

“Aluminum smelting is energy intensive, and generating the electricity required accounts for more than half the global aluminum industry’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Emirates Global Aluminium CEO Abdulnasser Bin Kalban said in a statement.

This is the first memorandum of understanding for GE Gas Power has globally to develop ways to reduce emissions in the aluminum sector. Joseph Anis, president and CEO of GE Gas Power Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in a statement that the initiative may serve as a model across similar energy-intensive industries.

In 2017, GE worked with the aluminum firm to reduce nitric oxide emissions by 16% at the Jebel Ali plant.

The initiative comes after the UAE government pledged during COP26, the U.N. climate conference in November, to become a competitive hydrogen exporter as it seeks to reach net zero GHG emissions by 2050.