Decoding Steel's Green Revolution"

PrimetalsImage Source: Primetals


At the World Steel Association's Breakthrough Technology Conference, Primetals Technologies' Alexander Fleischanderl outlined the critical decade ahead for the steel industry. With 71% of global blast furnaces needing refurbishment by 2030, the choice between refurbishment and electric arc furnaces is pivotal. Fleischanderl emphasized electrification, carbon avoidance, and capture for net-zero goals. Predicting low-carbon technologies' surge to over 60% by 2050, he highlighted Europe's leadership in industry transition, foreseeing robust growth in direct reduction (DR) plants globally.


In a pivotal presentation at the World Steel Association's Breakthrough Technology Conference, Alexander Fleischanderl, the global head of green steel at Primetals Technologies, shed light on the transformative trajectory of the steel industry. Held in Abu Dhabi on December 5-6, the conference underscored the industry's journey toward sustainability and the challenges it faces in the coming decade.

Fleischanderl marked the current decade as "make-or-break" for the steel sector, revealing a staggering statistic—71% of blast furnaces worldwide will demand significant refurbishment by 2030. This critical juncture prompts investors to make crucial decisions: refurbish existing furnaces or pivot to electric arc furnaces (EAFs). According to Fleischanderl, electrification of production, carbon direct avoidance, and carbon capture usage and storage emerge as the pathways to achieve net-zero in the sector.

Iron quality takes center stage in determining the process route, he noted, while emphasizing that energy costs play a pivotal role in driving electrification and establishing a hydrogen ecosystem. Looking ahead, Fleischanderl predicted a substantial shift in the landscape of low-carbon technologies, anticipating their share to surge from the current 26% to over 60% of total steel production by 2050. This seismic change translates to an impressive 850 million metric tons of additional low-carbon steel production by the given year, necessitating not only the utilization of existing technologies but the development of new low-carbon solutions.

Fleischanderl highlighted Europe's proactive role in industry transition, particularly through the adoption of direct reduced iron (DRI), EAFs, and smelters. Globally, 37 DRI plants, 63 EAFs, and six smelters have been announced, reflecting the industry's collective commitment to sustainable practices. The expectation is a robust growth trajectory in direct reduction (DR) plants over the next 30-50 years, signaling a paradigm shift in steel production methods.


As the steel industry stands at the crossroads of refurbishing aging blast furnaces or embracing electric arc furnaces (EAFs), Alexander Fleischanderl's insights at the World Steel Association's Breakthrough Technology Conference illuminate the industry's path toward sustainability. With 71% of global blast furnaces in need of refurbishment by 2030, the decade ahead is deemed "make-or-break." Fleischanderl champions electrification, carbon avoidance, and capture as the essential avenues for achieving net-zero. The projection of low-carbon technologies surging to over 60% by 2050 underscores the industry's commitment to transformative change, with Europe leading the charge in adopting eco-friendly practices. The road ahead envisions not only the widespread adoption of existing technologies but also the imperative development of innovative low-carbon solutions, propelling the steel sector into a greener future.

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