Germany’s steel industry not changing practices despite pressure to go green

(EurActiv, 8 Oct 2019) Germany’s energy-intensive steel industry needs to reinvent itself so that it can meet European climate targets and remain competitive. However, there is still a long way to go before the sector goes green. EURACTIV Germany reports.

In Germany, the steel industry is slowly feeling the burn, under pressure to meet German and European climate targets, as the CO2-heavy sector will have to slash completely its fossil fuel use by 2050.

The industry, which emits the equivalent of 67 million tonnes of CO2 per year, is already affected by the emissions trading system (EU ETS). Although it still receives most of its permits free of charge under the scheme, the number of free allowances will be significantly reduced by 2021.

As a result, their prices are already increasing rapidly, with one tonne of CO2 costing approximately five times more than it did two years ago.

“The purchase of certificates and higher electricity prices threaten to lead to massive international competitive disadvantages,” warned Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, president of the German Steel Federation.

Companies already producing hydrogen

But can steel be produced entirely without CO2?

Theoretically, yes. Research has been going on for years into technologies for CO2-free steel production. Arcelor-Mittal, Thyssen-Krupp, Tata, Voestalpine have all been looking for ways to do without coal, which has prompted them to turn towards hydrogen as a substitute for fossil fuels.

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EurActiv, 8 Oct 2019: Germany’s steel industry not changing practices despite pressure to go green