The production of steel is a highly energy-intensive process, whether it is through the 'primary' production route using a blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace, or via the 'secondary' route in electric arc furnaces.
The primary route, which generally produces new steel from virgin raw materials, presently relies primarily on coking coal, which is both the reductant and a major source of energy to melt the iron ore.
The secondary route, which is generally used to produce steel from scrap, uses electricity to melt the metal.
As such, both routes require significant amounts of energy of one form or another. However, European producers have been refining their processes and, since the 1960s, have cut energy demand by 50%, alongside a similar reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The European steel industry's transition to a low or carbon-neutral future will have a large impact on energy supply, because new technologies will require even larger quantities to power new, carbon-lean processes.
This energy transition being as expected, EU energy policy is even more important than before - to ensure that the European steel industry has access to sustainable, affordable energy.
European Industry Summit: a business case for Europe, under the auspices of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU - There is an urgent need for clarity, predictability, and confidence in Europe and its industrial policy
Brussels, 06 February 2024 – The 90% target recommended today by the European Commission demands an unprecedented transformation of EU society and industry in just 16 years. The steel industry is already playing its role but there is not yet a clear business case for the transition, and investments remain worryingly low. Rather than focusing on an abstract debate on target-setting, the EU needs a concrete problem-solving approach that delivers urgently an investment-friendly framework with affordable energy and an international playing field at its core, says the European Steel Association.
Brussels, 13 September 2023 – The European steel sector welcomes the vision for a renewed Industrial Strategy set out by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in the State of the Union address. Relaunching Europe’s industrial engine with concrete measures in all relevant policy areas should be both a core mission for the final year of this legislature and a top priority for the future EU executive. The European steel sector, which has launched over 60 industrial-scale decarbonisation projects, stands ready to engage with the Commission to develop and implement the urgent actions needed to boost the whole European cleantech ecosystem, says the European Steel Association.