60 percent of global steel production is carbon-intensive, threatening climate targets

Despite all commitments to make steel production companies carbon-emission-free, the world’s steel production and development is still dominated by traditional, coal-based steelmaking, which threatens to miss the Paris targets set for combating global climate change. Used to be.

This is to say from the energy research group Global Energy Monitor (GEM) “Pedal to the Metal: No Time to Delay Steel Sector Decarbonization.” Name of the new report. The report is based on the first comprehensive survey of all crude steel plants in the world with a capacity of at least one million tonnes per annum. According to the survey, more than 60% of global steel manufacturing capacity adopts the Blast Furnace-Basic Oxygen Furnace (BF-BOF) manufacturing method, which is the most carbon-emitting method of steel production. Not only this, the coal-burning blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace, which accounts for more than three-quarters of the global steel capacity under construction, plans to go the BF-BOF route.

Talking about India in this context, some of the main things are as follows.

According to the Global Steel Plant Tracker (GSPT), India has an operating steelmaking capacity of 90.1 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), behind only China (1,023.7 mtpa) and Japan (117.1 mtpa).

The makeup of India’s operational capacity is 63% Basic Furnace-Basic Oxygen Furnace (56.7 mtpa), 24% EAF (21.8 mtpa), and 3% OHF (2.5 mtpa), with the remaining 10% (9.1 mtpa) combining the three with.

In 2020, the steel sector in India emitted 242 metric tons of CO2, accounting for 35% of India’s industrial CO2 emissions, and an increase of 33% from 2010 (183 metric tons of CO2 equivalent).

Steel production in India was growing steadily from 89 to 111 million metric tonnes from 2015 to 2019, which dropped to 100 million tonnes in 2020 due to the slowdown from the Covid-19 pandemic. Steel production in a rapidly industrializing country is projected to quadruple by 2050.

India is unique in that it has a large amount of direct reduced iron capacity (52 mtpa) which is mainly coal-fired. But unlike the basic furnace-basic oxygen furnace production method, emissions from direct reduced iron can be more easily eliminated by swapping fossil fuels with renewable-based hydrogen as the reducing gas, which means That India is in a better position than many countries for the decarbonization of the steel sector.

India’s largest private steel companies are moving towards decarbonisation. JSW Steel and Tata Steel Europe have committed to being carbon-neutral by 2050, and JSW Steel aims to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 40% (below 2005 levels) by 2030.

This report by the Global Energy Monitor (GEM) found that there are currently 78 metal-industry-related coal mines for steelmaking and the supply of coal used in this industry, accounting for 20% (455) of the global proposed coal mine capacity. million tonnes per annum – mtpa coal). GEM calculated that there is a potential methane leak risk of about 3.5 million tonnes per year (mtpa) from these proposed metal-industry-related coal mines. These emissions are not accounted for in the steelmaking emissions calculation, which means that the emission saving potential of switching from coal-based Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) and Blast Furnace (BF) steelmaking to green steel technologies is not currently reported. is more than. According to the IEA Net-Zero Scenario (NZE) by 2050, there should be no new coal mines or mine expansion after 2021 to keep global warming to 1.5°C.

More than three-quarters of global steel capacity is now covered by net-zero and low-emission carbon commitments from steelmaking companies and countries.

Yet over 75% of the steel capacity currently under construction in the Global Steel Plant Tracker uses the Blast Furnace-Basic Oxygen Furnace (Bf-BOF), the most carbon-intensive conventional method of steel production is.

The steel industry faces a risk of US$ 47-70 billion in stressed assets for carbon intensive steel plants under development.

The countries with the highest capacity as a percentage of total production in 2020 were EU27+UK with 26.6%, Japan with 23.7%, US with 20.0% and China between 13.5% and 20.0%.

According to the Global Steel Plant Tracker (GSPT), Japan has 117 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of operating steelmaking capacity (out of at least 1 mtpa); The total operational steel making capacity of the country is 130 million tonnes per annum (mpta) including plants with less than 1 million tonnes per annum (mpta) capacity.

According to the Global Steel Plant Tracker, Japan is second only to China for operating steelmaking capacity, of which about three-quarters (85 mtpa) is blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace.

The steel industry is the largest emitter among the country’s manufacturing industries, making up 16% of the country’s 2019 CO2 emissions (172 of 1,030 million metric tons).

China is home to more than half of the world’s steelmaking capacity, and more than 60% of global carbon emissions from steel plants.

According to the Global Steel Plant Tracker (GSPT), steel plants in China account for 51% (1,023 mtpa of 2,010 mtpa) of the world’s steelmaking capacity, although additional non-reported operating capacity accounts for up to 58% of China’s global capacity. can increase. .

About 77% (790 mtpa) of China’s operating steel capacity is blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace steelmaking, which is significantly more carbon-intensive than electric arc furnace steelmaking and the difficult to decarbonize steelmaking process.

Japan has an operating steelmaking capacity (out of at least 1 mtpa) of 117 million tonnes per annum as per GSPT; The total operational steelmaking capacity of the country is up to 130 mtpa including plants with less than 1 mtpa capacity.

According to the Global Steel Plant Tracker, Japan is second only to China in operating steelmaking capacity, of which nearly three-quarters (85 mtpa) is blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace.

“It is clear from all the suggested ways to stop climate change that we need to shift the current steel fleet from coal-intensive steelmaking to electrified or electricity-based steelmaking. Cases of decarbonization of the steel industry I need to pedal to the metal,” said Caitlin Swalik, researcher and analyst at GEM and lead author of the report.

GEM’s Coal Program Director, Christine Shearer, said, “Building new coal blast furnaces is a bad bet for steel producers and a bad bet for the planet. Coal-based steelmaking capacity far exceeds what is already produced, and There’s no need to build more.”

The report also found that with global steelmaking capacity nearly 25% higher than production, many old and polluting steel plants could be closed without disrupting global supplies. The countries with the highest capacity as a percentage of total production in 2020 were EU27+UK 26.6%, Japan 23.7%, US 20.0% and China between 13.5% and 20.0%.

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