Sweden’s Ovako gets permit for hydrogen unit to lower steel emissions

Swedish steel producer Ovako said Nov. 11 that it has secured an environmental permit for a hydrogen electrolyzer to lower carbon emissions from steel production as early as mid-2023.

The electrolyzer, Sweden’s largest, is due to start production of green hydrogen using renewable power “before the summer of 2023,” a company statement said.

The Land and Environmental Court in Ostersund Nov. 7. approved the environmental permit related to the investment at Ovako’s Hofors electric arc furnace-based works, it said.

Ovako, which has offered net-zero steel products since 2022, will use the hydrogen for heating steel bar products at its rolling mill. This will enable lower-emissions steel supplies, and progressively help reduce the volume of voluntary carbon permits the company is procuring in the market to offset Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

“The new hydrogen plant in Hofors will make Ovako the first in the world to heat steel with hydrogen prior to rolling, and is the next major step towards carbon neutral steel production by replacing LPG with fossil-free hydrogen,” Ovako said.

Ovako expects the volumes will also support hydrogen supply for trucking, and is investing on a 17 MW electrolyzer in conjunction with truckmaker AB Volvo Group, Hitachi Energy, H2 Green Steel and Nel Hydrogen, it said.

Stockholm-based new entrant H2 Green Steel plans to use green hydrogen to produce steel from raw materials at sites in Sweden and in Spain. Trials are ongoing to test hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas at direct reduction iron plants, which can produce a metallic iron for steelmaking from iron ore.

Ovako, which is owned by Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp., uses ferrous scrap as its main feedstocks, and already purchases renewable power for its EAF-based operations.

“The conversion to hydrogen will enable Ovako to reduce its CO2 emissions for steel production in Hofors by 50% from already low levels,” it said.

“The plan is for local hydrogen production to be used in all of Ovako’s units where steel is rolled by 2030, provided that there is a good supply of fossil-free electricity.”

— Hector Forster