Tata Steel moves forward with first phase of ‘Green Steel’ plan in the Netherlands

Tata Steel Nederlands has taken a step toward decarbonizing its operations by awarding contracts for an electric-arc furnace (EAF) and direct reduction iron (DRI) plant at its site in IJmuiden in the Dutch province of North Holland.

Tata Steel Nederlands said on Monday May 27 that it had awarded contracts for the basic engineering of the EAF and DRI to two Italian companies – equipment supplier Danieli and system solutions specialist Tenova.

Part of the first stage of Tata Steel Nederlands’ “Green Steel” plan, which it expects to be complete by 2030, the EAF will replace the site’s largest blast furnace, BF7, while the DRI plant will replace one of the company’s coke-making plants.

The company did not specify the capacity of the new equipment and did not provide any further details to Fastmarkets’ questions on the issue.

“We cannot share any more information yet about the capacity,” a company spokesperson said, although market participants told Fastmarkets the EAF capacity was likely to be around 3 million tonnes per year.

Tenova said the DRI equipment would refine the liquid metal from the EAF to produce high-quality steel, particularly for the automotive sector.

According to Fastmarkets’ data, at IJmuiden, Tata Steel currently has the capacity to produce 7.5 million tpy of crude steel and produces hot-rolled, cold-rolled, hot-dipped galvanized, and pre-painted coil, along with tin-plated products.

The DRI plant and EAF will cut CO2 emissions by 40%, Tata Steel Nederland said.

In the first stage of its Green Steel plan, the company also aims to further reduce its emissions and particulate matter by using more scrap in steel production, raising its usage from 17% scrap to 30% by 2030.

The steel producer said that it would apply for the necessary permits for the new equipment by the end of 2024.

In the second phase of its transition, Tata Steel Nederlands will close its BF6 and its other coke-making plants, resulting in an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2030 to 2045, by which time the company will be “CO2 neutral.”

Political support concerns
Tata Steel Nederlands decarbonization plans have previously been supported by the Dutch government and, at the end of April, the outgoing Dutch government formally declared that it wanted to Tata Steel’s plan to become more sustainable enacted more quickly, with government representatives starting negotiations with the steelmaker over a legally binding and enforceable tailor-made agreement to do just that.

“Tata Steel’s focus is now entirely on the first phase of its Green Steel plan,” the steelmaker said on Monday. “[And] once the tailor-made agreement with the Dutch government is in place, the company can begin ordering long lead items based on the progressed engineering work, ensuring [that it stays] on track for 2030,” the company said.

But it is not clear how the new Dutch government – a right-wing coalition formed by Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders – will treat such decarbonization projects, with the country’s the most right-wing government for decades likely to deprioritize climate change regulations in favor of more protectionist, nationalistic policies.

Asked to comment on the possible impact of the new government’s future policies on Tata Steel Nederland’s Green Steel plan, the spokesperson for the company said the mandate had been given to the Minister of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy to continue the talks on the tailor-made plan.

“So that is what we do at this moment,” the spokesperson added.

Notably, the new coalition plans to reduce climate change funding by €300 million ($326 million) every year for the next four years – amounting to total cuts of €1.2 billion, according to local media reports.

Sources said the funding cuts will be achieved through cuts in the development of renewable hydrogen.

The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy was approach for comment, but had not responded by the time of publication.

The issue of developing green hydrogen is already a key topic of conversation among European steelmakers.

ArcelorMittal Europe chief executive, Geert van Poelvoorde, told global energy transition information service Hydrogen Insight earlier this year that it could not operate its European plants using green hydrogen, despite billions in EU state funding, because the resulting green steel would not be competitive in international markets.

Using hydrogen with existing DRI modules in Europe is quite expensive, Fastmarkets understands, with hydrogen prices currently around €5-8 per kg, but needing to be closer to “€2.5-3.0 per kg to be commercially viable for steelmaking,” a steel producer in Northern Europe said. To produce 1 tonne of liquid metal in a DRI module, around 80 kg of hydrogen is required, according to industry estimates.