In an official announcement, the German Federal Ministry of Economics has once again voiced its unwavering support for the construction of a cutting-edge steel plant in Duisburg by thyssenkrupp. The "tkH2steel" project carries immense importance for the decarbonization of the industry and the future of Germany as a prominent industrial hub. The ministry made this statement following the unofficial visit of German Economics Minister Robert Habeck to thyssenkrupp's headquarters in Essen and the steel site in Duisburg. During his visit, Habeck engaged in discussions with the company's management and scheduled meetings with employee representatives.
Thyssenkrupp, Germany's largest steel manufacturer, has plans to commence operations at the new hydrogen-capable large-scale ironmaking plant by the end of 2026. Initially, the plant will rely on natural gas for its operations, gradually incorporating hydrogen from late 2027 onwards. With a total cost exceeding two billion euros, the project is a joint effort between the state and federal governments, who are seeking approximately two billion euros in funding. However, final approval from the EU Commission is still pending.
Recently, senior employee representatives from thyssenkrupp penned an open letter to Minister Habeck, urging him to expedite the approval of the promised funding amount. The employees fear that the future of thyssenkrupp's steel division, which employs 27,000 workers, is at stake if the project, along with other green steel initiatives, fails to materialize.
The German Ministry of Economics, in Berlin, reaffirmed its commitment to the project and assured that they are actively engaging with the EU Commission. The ministry stated, "We are also in continuous exchange with representatives of thyssenkrupp Steel Europe and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia." Their goal is to secure the necessary funds of approximately two billion euros.
The Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, embarked on a visit to Essen and Duisburg to hold discussions with the management and labor representatives of Thyssenkrupp. This visit comes after weeks of criticism from workers who believe that Berlin's support has been inadequate. While appreciating the public show of support, Thyssenkrupp CEO Miguel Lopez emphasized the importance of swift clarity and approval from the EU Commission to move forward without delay.
Under the tkH2Steel project, which focuses on hydrogen-based climate strategies for steel production, Thyssenkrupp aims to commission a direct reduction iron (DRI) plant capable of producing 2.5 million metric tons of steel annually. The project is scheduled to begin operations in 2026 and carries an estimated cost of over two billion euros, covering the site development and required infrastructure.