The Green Steel Deal
Why is steel important?
Steel is one of the most important materials of all.
More than 1.8 billion tonnes are consumed worldwide every year but coal is needed for conventional production and therefore iron and steel production is the largest single emitter of CO2 worldwide.
The importance of steel is often underestimated. Each of us consumes about 400-500 kilograms of steel every year. If you do the experiment of simply looking around you at everything that is actually made of steel, you can see how important this material is.
It starts with the sewing needle and your tools and the kitchen at home and also with the steel that holds the house we are sitting in together. It's not just cars that are very present, of course, but our entire civilisation has a backbone of steel.
What are the industrial challenges for green steel?
The shift away from carbon is an important step towards a climate-neutral economy but the steel industry cannot simply turn the switch. This is a huge task: we aim at the reconstruction of an entire industry sector where a millennia-old process is to be revolutionised. New systems and plants are needed and the dimensions are gigantic. Also: how can the huge demand for hydrogen be met, and as quickly and completely CO2-free as possible? If we could only build these new plants for green steel when sufficient hydrogen is available, we would lose a lot of time.
New production processes can in principle also change the properties of materials. Research therefore needs to address what effect the use of hydrogen has on steel.
In the restructuring of the entire steel industry, large parts of the previous industrial plants in this sector will be completely eliminated in the future.
For example, blast furnaces, the sintering plant as well as the coking plant and the entire coal transport routes will be eliminated. All this will no longer exist in a few years and large new plants will be built that work with hydrogen and methane gas instead of coal, and which look much more like modern chemical plant process technology.