The steel industry offers one of the biggest potential opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, the steel industry is responsible for 8% of carbon emissions. This is due to the vast amount of coal required to heat steel furnaces. Currently, 75% of steel is produced using coal-fired furnaces.
One method for reducing the environmental impact of steel manufacturing is switching to “green steel.” Green steel is a term used to refer to steel produced without fossil fuels. This can be accomplished through the use of hydrogen to power steel production facilities instead of coal. Electric arc furnaces are another option for reducing carbon emissions. However, these furnaces are not always a completely green option as they are sometimes fueled by non-renewable sources.
Organizations in Chile and Sweden have begun planning for new green hydrogen production facilities to power steel manufacturing plants. In Chile, the project is overseen by CAP, the largest steel producer in the country. The pilot phase of the project will run through 2025 and produce 1,550 tons of green steel. As a country, Chile hopes to produce the cheapest green hydrogen in the world by 2030 and become one of the top green steel exporters by 2040.
In Sweden, H2 Green Steel is beginning construction of Europe’s first green steel plant. Located in Boden, Sweden, the plant will produce 5 million tons of steel by 2030. The plant will generate its own green hydrogen and export excess hydrogen not needed for plant operations to other industrial organizations.
These developments within the steel industry mark an important shift in priorities toward clean energy solutions. If large-scale plants can implement hydrogen as a clean energy solution, it may inspire other smaller operations to follow suit. The emissions benefits of this shift are likely to be significant as the steel industry move from being one of the largest sources of carbon emissions to a zero-emissions model.