Meeting the Greenhouse Gas and Energy Challenge

Worldwide production of steel is about 1.2 billion tonnes per annum.  It is estimated that this production is responsible for about 3.2 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

While there has been significant progress in improving energy efficiency and reducing the greenhouse intensity of steel production, we are fast approaching the limits of current technology.  At the same time, steel production continues to grow and is expected to reach 2 billion tonnes by 2020.

Faced with these limits, and with continued growth in production, the steel industry needs a major technology breakthrough in order to reduce its reliance on carbon.

Developing a new low emissions technology for making iron and steel is an enormous challenge and will take the combined efforts of steel manufacturers and others, working together on a global scale, in order to succeed.

International Research Efforts

BlueScope Steel is contributing to worldwide research efforts, in partnership with other steel makers and the International Iron & Steel Institute (IISI).  The IISI – a global organisation that represents around 80 per cent of the world’s steelmakers – is undertaking the CO2 Breakthrough Programme, with BlueScope Steel as one of its contributors.

In Australia, we are working with the CSIRO on two projects and sharing the results with other participants in the programme.  One project is examining the use of biomass as a replacement for a proportion of the coal used in the iron making process.  The second relates to the development of new technology for granulating blast furnace slag without water and recovering the waste heat.

Other technology being considered worldwide includes carbon capture, carbon absorption, and technology that uses hydrogen instead of carbon in the chemical reaction that converts iron ore to iron.

Steelworks Co-generation Plant

At Port Kembla Steelworks we are currently studying a major opportunity to cut indirect greenhouse gas emissions, by building a new co-generation plant.  A co-generation plant would take waste gases that are currently flared to the atmosphere and use them to generate electricity.  This would reduce the need for the Steelworks to purchase coal-fuelled electricity from the national grid, meaning a net reduction in GHG emissions of approximately 800,000 tonnes per annum.  A feasibility study is expected to be completed in 2008.

Greenhouse Challenge Plus

During the year, BlueScope Steel entered into a voluntary agreement with the Australian Government to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement – part of the Australian Greenhouse Office’s Greenhouse Challenge Plus program – commits the Company to implement practical and cost-effective actions to reduce its emissions, and encourage staff and other stakeholders to do the same.

As part of the Greenhouse Challenge agreement, BlueScope Steel will monitor, measure and report on greenhouse gas emissions and progress against emissions reduction targets.

Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate

BlueScope Steel is also actively supporting the Australian Government as a member of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP) steel task force.  This partnership involves Japan, USA, Korea, China, India, Australia and - more recently - Canada.

The APP steel task force has calculated there is the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the global steel industry by between 100 and 200 million tonnes annually.  This would be achieved by transferring best practice technology from developed nations to developing nations, where there are many steel plants using outdated technology.

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