Climate change is a global issue that requires global solutions. worldsteel acts as a focal point both for steel industry knowledge exchange and a shared global approach. It also works with the International Energy Agency, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and, through its members, the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.
Use of steel in renewable energy applications
Specialty engineering steels are used to manufacture gears, bolts and bearings for wind turbines. Electrical steels are the vital component in converting kinetic energy from the wind into electrical energy. Steel plate is fabricated into tall wind towers that must withstand demanding weather conditions, onshore and offshore. Solar and bio-gas installations also rely on steel applications. Today more than ever, new and improved steels are needed.
Energy efficiency has been a target for improvement within the steel industry long before climate change emerged as a global issue. As a result, over the past three decades steel companies have halved the energy consumed per tonne of steel produced, and the many initiatives of steel producers around the globe demonstrate the intensity of efforts in this area.
The energy intensity indicator provides the ratio of energy consumed per tonne of steel cast. All intermediate products (such as power, pellets and coke) are included, whilst the prime raw material iron ore is not.
During 2007 and 2008 the average world steel energy intensity was 20.8 GJ/tonne steel cast. The 2009 figure is in the process of being finalised, but is also estimated at 20.8 GJ/tonne steel cast. As of 2007, this data is collected in conjunction with the world steel CO2 emissions data collection and the methodology has been slightly revised.
Greenhouse gas emissions
CO2 emissions account for 99% of all steel industry greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The reduction of CO2 from steel production is an established priority, as is the reduction of GHG emissions during the life cycle of products that use steel. Companies incorporate strategies into their everyday businesses to improve processes and drive product innovation in this direction.
The steel industry has pushed steel production processes very close to the theoretical minimum intensity of CO2 per tonne of steel that is produced. Some minor gains can be made through the increased use of scrap, but scrap availability is a limiting factor. worldsteel coordinates a CO2 breakthrough expert group on new technologies that can be researched and developed in a globally coordinated way. Research is taking place in the EU (ULCOS: 48 companies and 15 governments), the US (AISI), Canada (CSF), South America (ArcelorMittal Brasil), Japan (JISF), Korea (POSCO), China (Baosteel), Taiwan (China Steel) and Australia (Bluescope Steel and OneSteel with CSIRO). There is major government support for this work in the EU and Japan.
The current focus is on the feasibility at various levels of production, and on the careful upscaling to commercial volumes. Much will depend on the feasibility of implementing carbon capture and storage solutions and CO2-lean electricity sources. In 2008, worldsteel set up a CO2 emissions data collection programme, enabling every steel producing company in the world to submit their CO2 emissions using a standardised methodology.
The worldsteel GHG emissions indicator measures CO2 emissions. It includes all intermediate products (such as power, pellets and coke), whilst the extraction of the prime raw material iron ore is not included.
In 2008, over 180 steel-producing sites participated in the Climate Action programme, and the database now holds CO2 and energy intensity data for nearly 40% of global steel production capacity. Companies that participate receive a report and can see how its plants compare to others worldwide.
During 2007 and 2008 the average world steel CO2 emission intensity was 1.8 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of steel cast. The 2009 figure is in the process of being finalised, but is also estimated at 1.8 GJ/tonne steel cast.