Swiss Steel seeking to usher in the energy transition with green steel

12 August 2022 09:12

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Lucerne - In a white paper, the Swiss Steel Group has described green steel as the order of the day for both the industry as a whole and the global climate. The ecological footprint of the steel producer is already 78 percent below the global industry average.

The climate-neutral production of steel is the order of the day for the Swiss Steel Group (SSG). This could become an “ideal launch platform for green technologies”, SSG writes in a white paper. “Because if decarbonization doesn’t work in the steel industry, it won’t work anywhere”, the company adds. Without this, “decarbonization of global commodity flows is not possible and climate change cannot be stopped”, the white paper warns.

SSG has calculated that the decarbonization of the European steel industry will require a capacity of up to 60,000 megawatts for the electrolysis of green hydrogen. At present, a capacity of 200 megawatts has been installed. “Added to this are the demands of the chemicals industry, fertilizer production and many other industries in which there is no alternative to hydrogen in production processes”, according to the white paper.

However, due to the lack of coordination at European level and above all a lack of imported electricity, the grid can become unstable. As such, “decarbonization must go hand-in-hand with political engagement” in the area of electricity as well, with the aim of ensuring “that industries that take the fight against climate change seriously are not put at a disadvantage”. Further potential savings are possible in the area of gray electricity in the supply chain and the direct use of waste heat for traction in locomotives, for example.

According to information from the company itself, SSG steel mills exclusively use the electric arc furnace production method rather than blast furnaces. This is one of the reasons why the company’s ecological footprint is already around 78 percent below the global industry average. Electric arc technology uses high-alloy steel scrap instead of alloying metals. However, an elaborate scrap logistical network is required to ensure the availability of high-quality scrap, although with this in place, the steel industry can assume the role of a pioneer for the circular economy, SSG writes. For this reason alone, the white paper concludes, green steel will in future be far more than just an eco-label for steel.

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