Steel has historically been central to modern economies, synonymous with growth and progress. Modern society would be impossible without steel: Europe’s reconciliation after World War II was built on unified coal and steel industries. Today the steel sector in Europe has an annual turnover of EUR 166 billion and it is responsible for 1.3% of EU GDP. Moreover steel is the essential material for a circular economy, not only for its recyclability, but because it is a material that remains available to be reintroduced into a production process in order to give birth to products or materials (permanent material). Therefore the sector has been recognized as one of three areas, along with space and defense, where the European Commission proposes specific policy measures. At the same time Europe's steel industry has been under severe pressure, squeezed between brutal market conditions and the resolve to mitigate climate change with the associated shift to a carbon-limited world. To conquer these challenges, apart from creating and maintaining a level playing field, the European steel industry has to rely on its highly skilled workforce and on its ability to deliver technological breakthroughs. Starting from the consideration that the sector finds itself very close to the physical limits of CO2 emissions reduction from conventional steelmaking technologies, the European steel industry is fully committed to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and to helping meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement working on the following main pathways towards the smart, low carbon industry of the future:

• Carbon Direct Avoidance (CDA), which substitutes carbon for hydrogen and/or via the use of electricity.
• Low Carbon Without CO2 Emissions (LCWCE), which further optimises carbon-based Metallurgy and applies the
circular use of waste carbon in synergy with other industrial sectors and the use of carbon storage methods to mitigate
greenhouse gas emissions.
• Enhancing the recycling of steel and its by-products, helping to improve resource efficiency and reinforcing the
circular economy.

The Eurpean steel industry’s development plans are ambitious, and this comes at a cost, potentially of several billion euros. Thus, it is important to note that large-scale projects must have the option to apply for additional EU and national funds on top of the funding by a single joint technology initiative. Only joint initiatives with other industrial sectors, the EU institutions and the member states to support the necessarily time-consuming and expensive R&D, will foster the emergence of such breakthrough solutions. The ‘Big Scale’ initiative – i.e. the work on a joint initiative on low carbon steel – is a key component which will be needed to accelerate carbon reduction over the entire steel value chain. This should also contribute to the creation of the coveted circular economy in Europe, given the huge potential of steel.

Published in: World Congress on Internet Security (WorldCIS-2017)

  • Date of Conference: 11-14 December 2017
  • DOI: 10.2053/WorldCIS.2017.0006
  • ISBN: 978-1-908320-81-0
  • Conference Location: University of Cambridge, UK