UK Steel Industry Could Expand in Transition to Zero Carbon Future
UK Steel IndustryMPI UK

UK Steel Industry Could Expand in Transition to Zero Carbon Future

According to a report by Syndex UK and Teesside-based innovations and research centre Materials Processing Institute, the decarbonisation of the steel

According to a report by Syndex UK and Teesside-based innovations and research centre Materials Processing Institute, the decarbonisation of the steel industry provides Britain with an opportunity to stimulate domestic production and take a lead in the new Green Industrial Revolution. The report, titled Decarbonisation of the Steel Industry in the UK, predicts the global steel industry will grow by 50% up to 2050, while new green industries will create fresh market opportunities, such as offshore wind, electric vehicles, and hydrogen infrastructure. It says that with the right policies in place this country can cut its reliance on imported steel by almost half, but the UK must take advantage of its research and innovation capabilities that can deliver the transition to a low carbon future.

The report added “However, the scale of the challenge in decarbonising the industry remains significant. Steel production is the world’s second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after concrete, with an average of 1.85 tonnes of CO2 emitted for every tonne of steel produced worldwide. To comply with the Paris Agreement, producers must cut emissions by 90%.”

The report sets out an ambitious but practical proposal based upon the development of a DRI-hydrogen, electric arc furnace-based solution, which replaces fossil fuels in the Direct Reduced Iron stage with hydrogen produced by renewable energy, enabling production of virtually emission-free steel. The report says that hydrogen DRI technology seems the most adaptable solution for the UK industry and meets all decarbonisation milestones under the Paris agreement. Advantages include limited technological risk, immediate impact on CO2 emissions, and a process able to produce a full range of steel. It adds that the transition to a DRI/hydrogen solution, alongside investment in increased scrap melting through electric arc furnaces, seems more secure as it can be developed in tranches, starting with the implementation of proven technology allowing the continued use of blast furnaces until their end of life.

The report says that developing shared DRI-Hydrogen facilities can benefit all UK steelmakers and support the continued operation of blast furnaces at the same time as reducing emissions. Importantly the strategy advocated by Materials Processing Institute and Syndex leaves the door open for other solutions as the technology develops and allows for a gradual and phased transition which protects all of our downstream assets.

The report comes in the wake of the UK’s Business and Energy Secretary Mr Kwasi Kwarteng’s announcement of an ambitious blueprint to deliver the world’s first low-carbon industrial sector, with over GBP 1 billion to cut emissions from industry, schools, and hospitals. The new Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy sets out the government’s vision for building a competitive, greener future for the manufacturing and construction sector. Part of the government’s path to net zero by 2050, today’s measures will create and support 80,000 UK jobs over the next 30 years whilst cutting emissions by two-thirds in just 15 years. This new strategy will be underpinned by supporting existing industry to decarbonise and encouraging the growth of new, low carbon industries in the UK to protect and create skilled jobs and businesses in the UK

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