Domestic steelmaking at risk without investment in green technology, ministers warn

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) says domestic steel production in the UK could be at risk and is calling on government to encourage development of decarbonised technologies.

An inquiry held by the independent body considered the decarbonisation of the steel industry, taking evidence on opportunities provided by new technologies and challenges ahead.

Representatives across the sector told the Committee that the UK lacked ambition in this area compared to other countries, leaving some concerned clean steel developments would go elsewhere for business.

Without clarity and a clear strategy with funding the UK could be relying heavily on imported steel in the future the Committee heard.

person grinding pipe steel wool photography

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said: ‘From cars to building frames, ships to wind turbines, we rely heavily on steel. But steel production is highly energy-intensive and a significant emitter. As technologies advance in other countries, a way must be found to decarbonise the sector for Net Zero Britain.

‘Our Committee heard that the steel sector has the opportunity to move away from a heavy emitter towards championing clean tech as it adjusts towards eventually becoming a low carbon industry. This is exactly the transition we must be focussing on as the net zero deadline of 2050 approaches. To make this a reality, the Government must set clear demand signals and invest properly in research and development so that industry can adopt alternative methods to manufacturing steel that is not such a carbon intensive process.

‘Coking coal, essential in current steel-making, may become a thing of the past. We heard evidence that there will be limited domestic demand from any new coking coal mine.’

To facilitate decarbonisation of the industry experts recommended Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) and Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) methods be used to replace coking coal for steelmaking.

It was also suggested that funding is needed to cover costs of energy-intensive green steel technologies for the UK to remain competitive in the global market.

While Government schemes have created demand for British steel, the government has been warned these targets may not be reached if uncertainty remains on decarbonising the sector.

Photo by Karan Bhatia


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