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Use of green H2 in steelmaking can reduce CO2 emissions: TERI report

Green hydrogen technologies have the potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from primary steelmaking in India, permitting the sector to industrialize without the need to "carbonize," finds new research by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

The study titled "Green Steel through Hydrogen Direct Reduction: A Study on the Role of Hydrogen in the Indian Iron and Steel sector" delivers a techno-economic analysis of the hydrogen direct reduction (H-DR) process to discusses its suitability in the Indian context. The study is a joint effort by TERI, Primetals Technologies Austria GmbH, Austria, and Siemens India.

As per the study, one of the leading technology options is using low or zero-carbon hydrogen as a reducing agent in a direct reduction (DR) plant and consequently using such low or zero-carbon power for the electric arc furnace (EAF) to permit the production of green steel.

The environmental burden of steel is growing, and it will take a revolution in steelmaking technology to reduce its carbon intensity. Hydrogen may be an answer provided other issues, such as its efficiency and cost, are addressed. Syngas may be cheaper and for the time being, it can be a substitute, but we must get to the DRI route so that in the future, hydrogen can be brought in to move towards zero-emission, said Dr Mukesh Kumar, Director, Steel Research & Technology Mission of India, under the aegis of the Ministry of Steel.

At present steel production via the DR-EAF route based on hydrogen is more expensive than the traditional steelmaking routes. The path to cost-competitiveness for green steel can be enhanced by broader action around the production of hydrogen, as well as supporting climate policy, the study says. It proposes proactive cooperation between companies and the government to develop demand for low carbon products.

The study also recommends actions for 'supply push' and 'demand pull' to be taken by governments and businesses. For delivering a supply push, it suggests access to natural gas/syngas, demonstration plants, large-scale green finance, emissions penalty on production, and transition support for small-scale plants on the supply side. On the demand side, it suggests green product standards, corporate buyers' clubs, and public procurement.

The outcomes of the study were presented in a webinar at TERI, followed by a panel discussion with the stakeholders that delved into the huge potential that green hydrogen had in bringing sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of India's iron and steel industry. Reducing variability in renewable energy technologies to increase the operational hours of electrolysis was also discussed amongst industry leaders.

With stakeholder cooperation, governmental push for research and development, along with policy initiatives promoting green steel production, India's efforts to decarbonize this hard-to-abate sector can become a reality, the panelists agreed. 

Author : Moulin Oza
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