Lead Forensics

Decarbonising steel poses massive challenge

The government’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) has set a target of net zero UK carbon emissions by 2050. It has published details on how this can be achieved, which includes targets for decarbonising steel production.

The CCC guidelines aim for steel production to achieve close to zero carbon emissions by 2035. The committee’s advice is not legally binding, but it does influence government legislation plans.

The Director General of UK Steel, Gareth Stace, told the Financial Times that decarbonising steel is:

“An enormous challenge, both technically and commercially, [that] will be very difficult to do by 2035”.

A warehouse equipment manufacturer relies on steel to make equipment that is lightweight, durable and cost-effective. It needs a steady supply of steel at a reasonable cost. There are fears that making decarbonised green steel will make steel more expensive. However, Thomas Koch Blank, writing for the website GreenBiz, argues that there are several ways to reduce the cost of making green steel. Renewable energy from solar panels and wind turbines can replace expensive energy sources.

Steel production requires iron ore and coking coal. Coal can be replaced in the steel making process using alternate technologies. Koch Blank says that locating steel production plants near iron ore sources will reduce transport costs, and he is optimistic that steel will continue to be readily available at reasonable costs using hydrogen technology.

Decarbonising steel requires multi-million dollars’ worth of investment, and will require the steel industry to build plants that have carbon-reducing technology.

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