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☁️ "Fuel Switch or Fuel Fix for Steel and Cement?"

Redefining Energy

Photo by Anaya Katlego / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Hosts: Gerard Reid & Laurent Segalen
Guest: Dolf Gielen | Director Innovation & Technology | International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
Category: ☁️ Carbon Reduction

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:42] “[Decarbonizing the steel and cement sector] is a topic that is really high on the political agenda since quite recently. Because for a two degrees future world, we can go a long way with decarbonizing the power sector, but more and more countries are signing up to net zero by mid century. And that means you need to decarbonize also [other] sectors, and that includes industry. Within the industry, there is a number of big energy consuming and CO2 emitting sectors, iron and steel, chemicals and cement, etc. And the question now is how can you quickly decarbonize these energy intensive industries […]? And it matters in the overall picture, because these energy intensive industries account for about two thirds of industrial energy use and maybe 25-30% of global CO2 emissions.

[4:19] “First of all, steel is of course a major commodity. About 70% of that is produced from blast furnaces. And so the input for blast furnaces is iron ore and coal and coke. It's a very carbon intensive production process. And then the remainder of steel is mainly produced from electric arc furnaces, where you use steel scrap as an input and the CO2 emissions of that process are much lower, maybe a third or a fifth of what it is for blast furnace production. The attention for a long time has been on applying CO2 capture and storage for blast furnaces as a solution. But in recent years attention has shifted a bit. Now there is more focus on the use of hydrogen to produce what's called direct reduced iron, or sponge iron, which then can be used as a feedstock for electric arc furnaces. So if you use green hydrogen to produce that iron and then process it into steel and electric arc furnaces, their emissions can be very low. And that is currently being investigated by quite a lot of industries. In Europe alone, it's about 5-6 pilot projects.[…] Of course, it's still early days. It seems to be moving more in that direction, in terms of co2 capture and storage. So far, global uptake has been disappointing.”

[7:38] “There needs to be a business case. And for that business case, you need to have incentives, so a carbon tax can be such […]. But the other big issue in these energy intensive commodity industries has been the issue of potential carbon leakage and relocation and loss of competitiveness of industry. So if one country applies such tax, and other countries do not apply such tax, then industries may relocate. Let's say you may see a shift in trade patterns. That has always been the main barrier, why governments have been reluctant to touch industry. And that is still on the table. And the discussion in Europe around carbon water adjustment mechanisms that is currently taking place is in that context, very important. So that would be an enabling measure, that would put also an financial disincentive on importing such commodities, which have been produced abroad with high CO2 emissions.”

[15:23] “It's very likely that [there] will not be a single solution. We will need a mix of alternative fuels, particularly biomass and maybe biomass in combination with CCS may be interesting in that context. We will see more alternative cements. […] We talk about this, usually, in a European context, [but] a key country in all of this is China. So China is responsible for half of the world's steel production, [and] for half the world's cement production. And that's the case for a lot of these energy intensive commodities. And China needs to be part of a solution. Globally, these sectors can only decarbonize if China but also other emerging economies, such as India, are on board.”

Rating: ⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 27 min | 🗓️ 09/14/2021
✅ Time saved: 25 min