Ahead of his keynote presentation at this much-anticipated September's Eurocoke Summit, we spoke with Dr. Lüngen to get a sneak preview of what he'll be discussing at the event, and find out what he thinks are the key challenges the industry is facing in 2022 and 2023.
Such a comprehensive transfer of production route will be an enormous challenge for the European steel industry. To reach this target, policy boundary conditions have to be realised in due time to afford necessary investments for CO2-free iron and steelmaking technologies and to remain competitive in the world market. Nearly all steel producers in Europe which today operate integrated plants are developing a change over to the so-called carbon direct avoidance (CDA) route based on direct reduction of iron ores with the use of hydrogen and CO2 free electric energy. A lot of efforts are needed to also develop the handling and supply of hydrogen and green energy as requested and the necessary infrastructure.
The requirements of society to stop climate change and to limit temperature increase to 2°C by the year 2050 compared to the pre-industrial decades of the late 19th century require massive efforts also for the steel industry to reach the target of nearly CO2-free steel production.
In December 2019, the European Commission announced by the European Green Deal target, that the European Union will become the first climate netural continent and has therefore presented an action plan. EU council, European Parliament and the EU Commission announced on 21 April 2021 in the context of the trilogy a preliminary agreement, which foresees within the climate protection law a mitigation of greenhouse gases of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. The realisation of the 55% target shall be achieved by a European "fit for 55" law with the revision of many energy and climate related EU guidelines. The EU had presented this law in July 2021.
The steel industry is in line with the target, to reach greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050 and will bring substantial CO2 mitigations on the way by 2030. The main amount of CO2 generation in the steel industry comes from the integrated coke plant - blast furnace - oxygen converter route. A blast furnace cannot be operated without coke for physical reasons and therefore it inevitably generates CO2. One solution could be to apply CO2 capture and storage and/or carbon capture and usage but the experts see the silver bullet way in the avoidance of CO2 generation during iron and steelmaking. This means the application of hydrogen based direct reduction or iron ores without any use of coke or carbon and processing of the produced Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) in an electric arc furnace to crude steel. This transfer to the new way means the replacement of coke plants and blast furnaces and its shutdown.
Dr. Lüngen will be presenting the opening keynote at Eurocoke Summit 2022.