SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall ready to step up work to achieve fossil-free steel production

HYBRIT owners, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, is ready to step up the work to achieve a fossil free steel production and to move up the construction of the HYBRIT demonstration plant by three years, writes the three CEOs, in an opinion piece published in today’s Swedish daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter. The opinion piece comes just ahead of the United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit, taking place in New York later this month.

“Now, as the UN gathers for a new climate summit in New York on September 23, we are ready to step up our work for fossil-free steel production and to move up plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We are ready to increase efforts from our side, but if we are to achieve success, society and lawmakers must do the same,” wrote Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO, SSAB, Jan Moström, President and CEO, LKAB, and Magnus Hall, President and CEO, Vattenfall, in the opinion piece.

“We are already looking into the possibility of building a demonstration plant in 2025, three years ahead of plan, so that we can immediately thereafter produce iron ore-based, fossil-free steel for commercial use. The goal is to be selling fossil-free produced steel on a broad scale by 2035,” they wrote.

The three companies highlighted four important preconditions for this rapid transition to succeed:

  1. We need large volumes of fossil-free electricity. According to our calculations, the transition to HYBRIT requires the equivalent of about 10 percent of Sweden’s current electricity consumption. There will also be demand for electricity from other companies and consumers. We will need continued good access to fossil-free electricity with a high level of delivery reliability, competitive pricing and initiatives to create greater flexibility, e.g. through opportunities to store energy. This work must not be delayed. We are prepared to assist in these efforts.
  2. The public sector in Sweden must get involved and share the risk. Investing in groundbreaking technology such as HYBRIT is often risky, time-consuming and associated with major investments. At the same time, the projects bring great social benefit in the form of increased research, competence and opportunities to achieve climate goals. The Swedish government’s proposal to double the Industrial Evolution initiative over three years is good, but it needs to be secured for a long time to come. A fund is also needed at the EU level, and there may also be a need for support in being able to write off and scrap old plants (so-called stranded assets) in favor of new, sustainable technology.
  3. As a society, we cannot afford to keep emitting greenhouse gases. The EU trading system for emission allowances is currently being revised, and as a result, the costs of carbon dioxide emissions are rising. The system should be designed from 2020 to benefit the most climate-efficient methods from quarrying in the rock to finished steel. The system needs to be developed even after the upcoming trading period. Sweden and the rest of the EU also need to strive to change other parts of the world ahead of similar systems. Bold, sustainable solutions must not be prevented because parts of the world have a lower level of ambition and therefore carry on using old technology.
  4. Effective, appropriate permit testing in Sweden is required so that work on the transition is not significantly delayed or stopped completely, not least so that sufficient electricity can be obtained now that we have the opportunity to move up the demonstration phase. It can sometimes take 10 years to obtain an environmental permit or a concession to lay an electrical cable or to upgrade the grid. The Swedish government is planning some measures, but more work is needed.

“Steel is an amazing material. It builds communities, is hard-wearing and can in principle be recycled an infinite number of times,” wrote the CEOs in the opinion piece. “But recycled steel will not be enough. In line with social development, population growth and increasingly higher standards of living all over the world, demand will increase for new steel made from iron ore. Therefore, sustainable solutions are needed. Solutions that contribute not just to solving climate change, but to social development. This should be Sweden’s contribution to the UN climate summit in New York.”

Link to the opinion piece:

HYBRIT at SuomiAreena in Pori Finland





The HYBRIT initiative was raised during the debate at SuomiAreena in Pori, Finland, in July. The purpose was to raise interest in the initiative also in Finland.
Martin Pei, Chairman of the Board of Hybrit Development and technical director of SSAB, gave a brief presentation of the initiative. A panel discussion was followed with Antti Vasara, CEO of Technological Research Center VTT in Finland, Karoliina Auvinen, co-operation director for the project Smart Energy Transition at Aalto University, Mia Rahunen, climate expert at the World Nature Fund, Janne Peljo, project director within the focus area climate solutions at Sitra and Harri Leppänen, environmental director at SSAB.

See the entire panel debate that attracted many interested audience and debaters above.

HYBRIT commended by Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has awarded HYBRIT its Environmental Goals Prize for "Boldness and momentum". This initiative, conceived by SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, plans to produce fossil free steel by replacing coal with fossil free electricity and hydrogen. The by-product from steelmaking will then be water rather than carbon dioxide.

The Environmental Goals Prize was founded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to recognize and reward ambitious and successful environmental work, which contributes to Sweden achieving its environmental goals. This is the first time the prize has been awarded and the idea has been to inspire perseverance and innovativeness in environmental work. 

Martin Pei, chairman at Hybrit Development and executive vice president and CTO at SSAB, was present to receive the prize during the conference "Miljömålsdagarna" in Karlskrona, Sweden.

"With HYBRIT, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall are showing that it is possible to change the steel industry. But it requires boldness, innovation and urgency. That is why it feels fantastic that HYBRIT is being recognized in this way. We are already seeing how several steel companies throughout the world have started venturing to see the possibilities and maybe follow our example. I should say that the whole of Sweden and the world are the winners of this prize, as this new technology will enable us to reduce Sweden's carbon dioxide emissions by 10% and Finland's by 7%, and can potentially lower emissions in other parts of the world too," Pei says. 

The iron and steel industry is responsible for 7 percent of carbon dioxide emissions globally, and is thus one of the industries with the highest emissions. World population growth and urbanization are expected to lead to an increase in global demand for steel. It is against this background that SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall have created HYBRIT, with the aim of developing the world's first fossil-fuel free ore-based steelmaking technology. By using fossil-fuel free electricity and hydrogen for steelmaking instead of coke and coal, the by-product will be water instead of carbon dioxide. The HYBRIT initiative has received financial support from the Swedish Energy Agency.

The Environmental Protection Agency's citation reads:

"They have shouldered the enormous challenge of changing Swedish steel production to make it completely fossil free. With a groundbreaking new approach and great courage, the initiative has shown there to be no impediment to producing steel with hydrogen instead of coal. Not only may the project come will change Swedish steelmaking, which is responsible for 10% of Sweden's greenhouse gas emissions, it also has the potential to disseminate this technology globally and cut a substantial proportion of the world's climate-impacting emissions. The HYBRIT initiative is a trailblazer in the true sense of the word!