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How the steel industry is working towards a 'green revolution'


Green steel is the need of the hour. With net-zero in mind, companies are taking baby steps towards less fossil fuel dependence for steel-making. But the costs will be prohibitively high at the beginning and consumers should be ready to pay the price.

How the steel industry is working towards a 'green revolution'
The modern world cannot do without steel, yet the high-emission alloy plays an outsize role in the theatre of global warming. From cars to houses, to even the tools that your dentist uses, steel is omnipresent. Steel is also an important material in the transition to greener energy, with turbines, electric vehicles, among others, using steel. It is for this reason that the ‘greening’ of the steel industry is important for the world to achieve its net zero goals.
The demand for steel continues to grow, with the World Steel Association stating in a report that growth will reach 4.5 percent in 2021 and 2.2 percent in 2022. About 1.8 gigaton (Gt) of steel was produced last year.
Why do steel companies have a lot of emissions?
Most of the emissions generated by the steel industry is due to the process of refining iron, which involves burning huge quantities of coal. Other sources of emission include transportation requirements and a large energy requirement that’s often fulfilled by fossil fuel-based energy grids and.
It is estimated that each tonne of steel produced releases 1.85 tonne of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
What are steel companies doing to reduce their emissions?
Steel companies are innovating ways by which they can reduce their carbon footprint. One of the ways being explored is the replacement of coal in the refinement process by hydrogen fuel, or other biomass with lower carbon emission intensity.
Technological advances in improving the energy efficiency of the steel manufacturing process are also being worked upon. The less energy it takes to produce a tonne of steel, the less will be the overall carbon emission intensity of the entire process.
Investments pushing the steel industry towards renewable sources of energy are also being undertaken. If the steel industry works on electricity produced by greener sources, rather than fossil fuels, emissions are bound to reduce.
The prohibitive costs pose the biggest hurdle. Consumers of steel products must show a willingness to purchase greener steel even if it comes at a higher cost. Similarly, incentives and schemes from governments must also help the steel industry transition to greener processes, something which can be costly at the very start.
But as shown by the use of green steel by Swedish truck-maker AB Volvo earlier this year, the market for green steel can quickly develop as companies that use steel in their manufacturing process are looking for material produced with lower emissions. This will help them build fossil fuel-free value chains for the future.
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