Is thyssenkrupp steel really becoming greener?
Is thyssenkrupp steel really becoming greener? – Stainless Espresso

8 March 2023 – Is thyssenkrupp steel really becoming greener and cleaner? That’s a good question, since press releases spread a lot of self-praise and like to distract from important things with linguistic quibbles. The United States announces the results of anti-dumping investigations. And Taiwan is to get its own carbon border tax by 2024.

Will thyssenkrupp steel really become greener now?

Press releases from German steel producers such as thyssenkrupp, need to be read carefully. Subtle nuances in the choice of language can otherwise be overlooked and the efforts to reduce CO2 can be smoothly misinterpreted.

thyssenkrupp begins abolishing CO2-intensive primary production?

The Duisburg-based steel company, which is responsible for almost 50% of German steel production and thus for about 2.5% of Germany’s total CO2 emissions, has recently announced plans to move its production to greener feet.

DRI can help save CO2 emissions

To this end, a Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) plant paid for by German tax billions is to be built, which is supposed to help the company save 30% CO2 emissions by 2030. This is exactly what has been announced by European BOF/BF manufacturers for several years. And the demonstrable goal is to bring the outdated and dirty, but “traditional” primary route up to a technical standard with billions of euros of investment financed by taxpayers’ money, which would have to be shut down again by 2030 in order to achieve the climate protection goals at all.

DRI plants actually intended for secondary route

Furthermore, the DRI plants that are now to be built are actually intended for the CO2-friendlier secondary route, i.e. the production of steel in Electric Arc Furnaces (EAF) and not for the dirty BOF/BF plants that thyssenkrupp currently operates. Of course, DRI can also be used in the primary route, but it was not actually intended for this with regard to the Green Transformation.

DRI plants are only “hydrogen-capable”.

To this end, thyssenkrupp postulates that the 100 per cent hydrogen-capable direct reduction plant should be combined with innovative melters. Now here is a point where the interested reader should pay attention – here we are talking about “hydrogen-capable” and not “hydrogen-powered”. Why only hydrogen-capable, you may ask – because the hydrogen-capable plants can run on hydrogen AND natural gas.

Green hydrogen disappears from the linguistic usage of steel producers

Nor is there any more talk of “green” hydrogen. This has been disappearing from more and more pamphlets by steel producers and their associations for some time now. Why? Because it will not exist in the foreseeable future. This was also communicated by the Scientific Advisory Board of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) in December 2022 in its statement “Transformation to a climate-neutral industry: green lead markets and climate protection contracts”.

Since green hydrogen is still very expensive and only available in relatively small quantities, the first direct reduction plants are initially to be operated predominantly with natural gas or “grey” hydrogen produced with fossil energy.

Source: BMWK, Transformation to a climate-neutral industry: green lead markets and climate protection contracts

Natural gas plan back again?

The DRI plants, which in all likelihood will also be funded by money from the climate protection contracts of the BMWK, are therefore likely to be operated only with natural gas or with “grey” hydrogen for the time being. With this information alone, the reduction of 20-30% in CO2 emissions by Germany’s largest steel producer is already invalid and simply not true.

CO2 slingshot grey hydrogen

For even if the document of the Scientific Advisory Council says that the use of natural gas could reduce CO2 emissions by approx. 50%. However, if the use of “grey” hydrogen in DRI production increases, and this could well be the case in view of higher natural gas prices, even higher CO2 emissions could result in the end. The EU CO2 benchmark for the production of “grey” hydrogen is currently 6.84 t CO2e per tonne of hydrogen. Using 100% grey hydrogen would therefore almost double thyssenkrupp’S CO2 emissions.

Emissions can be avoided, but…

This also clarifies that thyssenkrupp only plans to reduce its CO2 emissions. Because the press release is clear: it is only about “emissions can be avoided” not about “emissions being avoided”.

Continued to want only primary route in Germany

There is no sign at thyssenkrupp of possible future plans to switch production to EAF and scrap recycling dominated. Nor is there anything of this to be found in the statement of the Scientific Advisory Board of the German BMWK – it even advises that the secondary route should not be classified as eligible for state funding.

Where are all the EAFs being built?

So if you, as an inclined reader, should have noticed somewhere the construction of thyssenkrupp EAFs for 20 million tonnes of steel per year, we would be happy to hear from you.

United States: Stainless steel anti-dumping measures extended

The United States has announced the results of several anti-dumping reviews against stainless steel imports. In the case against stainless steel bar from India, only the preliminary results of anti-dumping duty administrative review have been announced so far. The other two proceedings focused on stainless steel butt-weld pipe fittings from Italy, Malaysia, and the Philippines and stainless steel flanges from India. Here, extensions of the measures and new anti-dumping duties of more than 50% in some cases were announced.

Taiwan to impose its own carbon border tax by 2024

Taiwan had already been planning its own carbon border tax since 2022. Since the beginning of 2023, political efforts to introduce such a carbon tax in Taiwan have been increasing. After important political decisions were made in January and February, the design of the legal framework is to begin in March 2023 so that the carbon tax can be introduced by 2024.

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