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Hydrogen sparks change for the future of green steel production

Steel might exist as a crucial part of modern society, but it's also a major source of CO2 emissions. In the path towards reaching net zero goals, both carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen could provide new opportunities for greening production

Steel's sustainability dilemma

Here’s the dilemma: steel is a key material in modern societies. It provides us with houses, bridges, modes of transport and essential equipment and products. It isn't simply a relic of the old industrial revolution – steel is also crucial in a low-carbon economy. Green modes of transportation like electric vehicles, electric buses and trains require vast amounts of steel, as do wind turbines and electrolysers. So it is a pity that steel production is also a major source of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Greener alternatives still have to prove themselves and are often viewed as prohibitively expensive in a highly competitive market. Thoroughly transforming production processes takes years, so change is often desperately slow.

Steelmaking is a very energy intensive process and the current technology is mostly based on coal. Today, it accounts for 2.7 billion tons of CO2 every year, which represents 7% of yearly emissions globally. The shares are roughly doubled to 15%, 14% and 12% for China, South Korea and Japan respectively.

With the consensus view of a rising global population and increased prosperity, steel demand is expected to grow by 35% by 2050, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. While the sector is improving in terms of energy efficiency, emissions are likely to increase if steel continues to be produced predominantly with coal.

That's not exactly in line with the goal of creating a net zero economy. So, we’re going to look at the business case of possible technology fixes to reduce carbon emissions in the steel sector. We’ll assess where we are right now and the various pressures that companies are currently under to meet net zero targets. We'll also examine which alternative fuels could prove frontrunners in technology as science improves and adapts.

Catch all of the details from our team in the full report here