Green steel demand grows, challenged by supply constraints

Demand for green steel is increasing and technologies continue to be developed as the industry moves towards decarbonisation and a more sustainable future. Low-cost and renewable energy sources must be more readily available, however, should the industry wish to achieve its carbon netural goals. Speakers at Kallanish’s virtual Flat Steel Conference discussed these topics and more on Tuesday.

Sander Heinhuis, head of marketing automotive at Tata Steel Europe, says it’s not about finding just one best option for decarbonisation. The best solutions can differ according to location, depending especially on low-priced natural gas and hydrogen availability.

Steelmaking is trending away from the typical blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace route, but there is not enough scrap or direct reduced iron currently available to completely replace that capacity. Nor is there enough green hydrogen available at the scale needed, said Todd Ames, senior key account manager at Midrex Technologies.

“We can produce steel with near zero emissions if green energy and green hydrogen are available at a reasonable cost. Most places don’t have such quantities of H2 available,” Ames said.

The greatest opportunities exist in areas with abundant natural gas reserves to build large plants where natural gas and hydrogen can be made into ho-briquetted iron and then transported to steelmakers around the world, Ames said.

Friso de Vries, owner of service centre Vogel Stahl, says he is already seeing demand for green steel from his customers, but current production is limiting availability. Stockists can add value to green steel in the processing and transportation segments of the supply chain, he said, but they need the help of steelmakers in actually making the product available in greater supply.

Countries utilising green energy sources will have the best chance to make green steel, and Sweden’s SSAB is working diligently to achieve fossil-free steelmaking, said Thomas Hörnfeldt, vp sustainable business and public affairs at SSAB AB.

“Our steels in the future will have at least the same performance as we have today, with the added value of being fossil free,” Hörnfeldt noted.

Laura Miller USA