Steel is an essential part of our economic system and has played a vital role in development initiatives. However, manufacturing steel accounts for approximately 8% of carbon dioxide emissions globally. Additionally, given the size and significance of the steel industry, it is no surprise that steelmakers have been under pressure to accelerate their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In keeping with the Indian government’s COP26 commitments, the Ministry of Steel (MoS) has invited stakeholders to prepare an action plan targeting the reduction of emissions in the steel industry. On an annual basis, the global iron and steel industry accounts for around 8% of total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The industry accounts for 12% of total national CO2 emissions in India.
Discussions were held recently on the current situation and the way forward for supporting the transition to green steel and adopting the latest technology the steel industry can use to facilitate this transition. Through different programs and regulations, the MoS has assisted steel plants in reducing energy use and pollution emissions. Some of the steps taken are listed below:
- Charter on Corporate Responsibility for Environment Protection (CREP)
- National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)
- NEDO Model Projects for Energy Efficiency Improvement
- Iron & Steel Slag Utilization
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According to a report by the MoS, energy consumption is generally high in most integrated steel facilities in India, ranging from 6-6.5 Giga calories per tonne of crude steel as compared to 4.5-5.0 steel plants abroad. In keeping with the government of India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the Ministry of Steel has submitted NDCs to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) for the iron and steel sector to minimize GHG emissions by implementing clean and green technology. The Steel Association of India (SAI) recently compiled a list of policy enablers that might help advance green steel in the country. It includes preferential public buying of green steel, creating green steel standards, and other initiatives.
Some key achievements of the iron and steel industry so far are listed below:
- The steel industry has implemented cutting-edge clean technologies, improved raw material quality, increased fuel economy, and created a carbon sink.
- The following are some of the best available technologies adopted by the Indian steel industry to improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions:
|Technologies Adopted by the Steel Industry|
|Coke Dry Quenching (CDQ)|
|Sinter Plant Heat Recovery|
|Bell Less Top Equipment (BLT)|
|Top Pressure Recovery Turbine (TRT)|
|Pulverized Coal Injection (PCI) system|
|Dry-type Gas Cleaning Plant (GCP)|
|Cast House/ Stock House Dedusting System|
|Energy Monitoring & Management System|
|Secondary Fume Extraction System|
|Regenerative Burners in Re-heating Furnaces of Rolling Mills|
|Direct Rolling Process eliminating the need for Re-heating furnaces|
|Near Net Shape casting|
|Variable Voltage Variable Frequency (VVVF) Drives|
As a result of the implementation of the above steps, the specific CO2 emissions have significantly reduced from 3.1 T/tcs in 2005 to 2.5 T/tcs in 2020. In line with the efforts at the Ministry level, top steel manufacturers have also taken significant steps and targets to contribute to the achievement of India’s NDCs.
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As per their ESG report for FY 2020-2021, JSW Steel reduced its absolute Scope 1 & 2 GHG emissions by 7.4% last year while achieving a 3% energy intensity reduction across the organization. The company also achieved a 51% reduction in specific dust emissions generated from process stacks and reported a remarkable 7.3% reduction in water consumption. Prabodha Acharya, Chief Sustainability Officer JSW Group, said, “We have invested in gas-based power plants to utilize waste gases generated from steel operations, thereby reducing coal consumption. JSW also has steam generation from waste heat recovery at sinter plants”.
Hindalco Industries has committed to achieving net carbon neutrality by 2050. Vedanta Ltd. is investing in green businesses to leverage green hydrogen, green metals, renewables, recycling, etc. The company stated in its September quarter results that Vedanta has set up the world’s first ESG Academy for capacity-building within the organization.
Companies with access to worldwide standards and technology, such as AM/NS, intend to get power for their upcoming expansions from renewable sources. Tata Steel is investing in CCU/S to capture and use carbon at the emission source in their blast furnaces and is moving steadily towards carbon neutrality. The company intends to become water-neutral at all its locations by 2030 and a zero-effluent organization by 2025.
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Jindal Steel and Power Ltd.’s ESG targets include being one of the world’s top 10 lowest CO2 emitting steel businesses. The company intends to cut its carbon footprint by nearly half.
Steelmakers have made significant progress towards some SDGs, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency. However, there is still much work to be done. The buyers and customers of the steel industry now want clean products. One of the key difficulties confronting the Indian steel industry is the country’s heavy reliance on coal in various steelmaking processes. Additionally, the industry is still reliant on dated and inefficient technology. As steel production continues to grow in the coming years, steelmakers must redouble their efforts to support government decarbonization initiatives as India strives to attain net-zero emissions by 2070.