Tata Steel says it's ditching coal for hydrogen for cleaner production
Steel group Tata Steel in the Netherlands will switch to natural gas and eventually hydrogen for its steel production. Steel can be made just as well with this as with coal, but it results in less CO2 and particulate emissions. An earlier plan to store CO2 in the North Sea is off the table.
It will likely take until 2030 before the blast furnace complex in IJmuiden will partly run on gas or hydrogen. Now there are still two blast furnaces that run on coal. By 2030 there must be only one left, which can be closed later. Tat Steel cannot yet say whether the factories will already be running on hydrogen by 2030. The availability of sufficient green hydrogen is currently very limited.
Many other things also still need to be worked out. For example, it is not yet known how much money needs to be invested, how much CO2 emissions will be reduced, and what exactly the step means for employment. According to the company, a lot of preparation is involved. This also involves obtaining subsidies and the necessary permits and constructing infrastructure.
Tata Steel already expressed the wish to achieve a significant CO2 reduction by 2030. The company first wanted to achieve this by capturing and storing CO2. Now the company is opting for the use of DRI technology. This is a technology with which iron and steel are made from natural gas or hydrogen, performed in combination with one or more electric furnaces.
Hans van den Berg, chairman of the board of Tata Steel Netherlands, speaks of a radical change of course. "We do this not only because it is good for the climate, but also because this solution is also best for the environment." Due to pollution of the environment, the presence of Tata Steel in IJmuiden has been controversial for some time. Legal proceedings are underway with complaining local residents. "Within eight years it will look very different here. Fewer chimneys and other installations," Van den Berg predicted.
Earlier this year, a takeover of the Dutch branch of Tata Steel by Swedish branch parter SSAB still failed, because the possibilities for sustainability did not fit well with the sustainability plans of the Swedes. There was also criticism from FNV. The union even came up with a plan for a switch to hydrogen to ensure the survival of the steel manufacturer and thus approximately 10,000 jobs in the Netherlands. This subsequently led to a study into the best way to make steel production more sustainable.
Reporting by ANP