Green steel uptake varies between industries, regions: conference

Calls for environmentally sound steels are getting louder from carmakers and other major customers of high-end steels. But the picture is not all that unanimous, said speakers at the MBI Infosource Stahltag in Frankfurt last week.

“[Big] customers keep pushing us for green steel; some want it as early as tomorrow,” said Sebastian Bross of Salzgitter AG. As head of the distribution unit, Salzgitter Mannesman Handel, however, he also sees difficulties further downstream. “Distributors feed smaller customers who know little of the transition, of CBAM, of credit insurance and such, and they find it spooky,” Kallanish heard him say at the conference. “It will be the task of the distributors to bring that across.”

Asked from the audience about the level of acceptance in the construction industry, Bross came up with an observation on regional differences. Benelux and Scandinavia have a good awareness of green steel, while “the further you go east in Europe, the thinner it gets”.

Alexander Becker, chief executive of Georgsmarienhütte group (GMH), highlighted the group’s good relationship in this regard with Volkswagen, as it recently received the carmaker’s sustainability award. But his impression was split. Big groups like VW or Bosch are moving on green steel, “but where are the others?” he asked. He pointed at a big gap of perception between what a company’s ceo proclaims at a presentation, and what the purchasing department actually asks for. “They are worlds apart, sometimes,” he stated.

One remarkable impression within the sector of special bar qualities is that customers are apparently starting to prefer the cleaner footprint of EAF mills over oxygen-route mills like Saarstahl or Moravia Steel. “We are running at full capacity, and I can only explain it with a shift of volumes,” Becker opined.

Christian Koehl Germany