Primary steel production will remain dominant after 2050

The continued growth in steel demand over the coming decades means that primary production will remain the main source of steel after 2050, according to the report of the Net-Zero Steel Pathway Methodology Project (NZSPMP). This is because secondary sources are limited and related to the volume of end-of-life scrap that becomes available in the community.

The report argues that the emission targeting methodology should distinguish between primary (iron ore) and secondary (scrap) sources of steel production, rather than differentiate by production route. Primary sources of steel production are projected to be the main source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The methodology should “ensure that trade flows from final secondary sources do not move to jurisdictions with strict greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations, without contributing to an overall reduction in global emissions,” the report says.

The Science-Based Target (SBT) should consist of two targets based on the use of iron ore and scrap metal. Thus, the carbon budget for the steel sector, against which the net zero targets are estimated, should also consist of an iron ore (primary) and scrap (secondary) budget with separate paths to 2050.

You will need to consider budgets for specific product families, such as stainless steel. This is due to the significantly higher contribution of emissions from ferroalloy additives, which account for up to 70% of greenhouse gas emissions from stainless steels 1, 2 and 3, the report notes.

“Through collaboration with the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global budget for the steel sector should also include energy sector emissions associated with the combustion of iron and steelmaking process gases (coke oven, blast furnace and oxygen furnace) to generate electricity for both off-site, ”the report continues.

The use of carbon capture and utilization (CCU), for example to extract value from process gases, may require different treatment when the captured emissions are by definition not emitted from the steel sector. Therefore, they can be partially or completely deducted from the carbon balance of the site. The report says that additional emissions can be avoided in the downstream sectors as well, depending on the application.

The NZSPMP has been prepared by various stakeholders including ArcelorMittal, ResponsibleSteel and worldsteel.

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