The debates

FG 170510 EUROFER 49Steel Leaders’ debate

Low-carbon innovation: the European steel industry’s leadership

The technological perspective

The European Union has put in place ambitious targets for CO2 reduction for European industry of between 80-95% to 2050. The EU has several commitments – the Paris Agreement being one – to reduce its CO2 emissions.

Steel, as a major component of the EU’s industry, has responded to the climate challenge. It has a range of projects lined up that are the building blocks of a future low-carbon European steel value chain.

The steel industry is working hard to develop the innovative solutions that will protect the environment whilst producing steels that contribute to CO2 mitigation.

European steelmakers have already reduced their CO2 emissions and energy per tonne of steel produced by 50% since the 1970s. Concurrently, the industry has continued to expand its range of advanced steels, and there are now thousands of grades of steel for all applications.

CO2 mitigation is of particular importance for the steel industry in the face of increasingly stringent climate protection policies. Europe is a world leader in climate policy and steel contributes by investing to reduce its emissions. However, it is important for stakeholders to grasp that innovation requires the necessary investment to deploy the breakthrough technologies that will be indispensable in reaching the EU’s ambitious targets.

This panel will discuss some of the key technologies being developed to further improve the steel, including new approaches to steelmaking, new solutions for managing CO2 such as Carbon Capture and Use (CCU) and on the use of steel in mitigating CO2 emissions from the use of products, such as motor vehicles and energy generation.

 

Fireside interviews

Sustainability and the steel industry

Creating a policy environment for sustainability and innovation

The importance of sustainability in the steel industry in the circular economy is well established. The fireside interviews see speakers from industry look into the challenges facing industrial sectors in the circular economy and how policy makers can help can set the stage to make decarbonisation and sustainability into opportunities for the steel and related sectors to remain competitive in an evolving global market.

Steel is already at the forefront of circular and sustainability efforts. For instance, cullet glass – crushed glass ready for recycling – is used in ferrous slag production to determine the properties of the slag. Plastic waste can be used in blast furnaces as reducing agents instead of coke. Slags from Blast Furnaces can be used to substitute for natural limestone in cement production. Ferrous slag from Electric Arc Furnaces can serve as an alternative raw material instead of natural aggregates (gravel etc). Many other waste streams as secondary raw materials in chemical and raw material production.

 

Presidents’ debate

Working together: Advancing competitive, innovative and sustainable European industry

The economic and social perspective

Transitioning to a low-carbon steel value chain in Europe is going to revolutionise how steel is made. But ensuring that this transition is socially ‘just’ and the benefits equitably distributed will be a pressing challenge.

Smarter steelmaking technology is going to need high-skilled workers. Enhancing competitiveness, whilst investing in skills and innovation, is thus going to be priority for the steel sector in the coming decades. Indeed, the elements of social, economic and environmental sustainability must act as complements if the European steel industry is to thrive in the long term.

But how can Europe, its business and its workers advance these shared aims? What are the possible pitfalls? How does the steel industry ensure that its workers have the skills and adaptability to transition to forms of steelmaking that are completely different to the processes used today? What can policy makers at EU and member state level do to support the transition to the low-carbon, high-skilled future the sector is aiming for?