Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

Machines cutting steel tubes in factory

Steel tube production© Benteler Steel

Technology-push needed to reduce CO2 emissions in iron and steel industry


According to a recent JRC report, only new innovative technologies have the potential to alter CO2 emissions substantially and energy consumption to a minor extent in the European iron and steel industry by 2030.

The study Prospective Scenarios on Energy Efficiency and CO2 emissions in the EU Iron and Steel Industry revealed that demand-pull measures supported by public authorities, such as increasing the price of CO2 allowances, fuel and resources, are not significant enough. Hence, a technology-push is needed to bring meaningful changes to the industry.

The study used three different scenarios. The baseline scenario studies the trend of CO2 emissions and energy consumption of the industry when the demand for steel and the prices of fuels and resources evolve according to European Commission projections. The first alternative scenario analyses the influence of an increase of fuel and resource prices and the second one examines behaviour with respect to variations in the CO2 emissions price.

When the primary steel production route is analysed, (iron ore used as main raw material in blast furnaces and basic oxygen furnaces), the maximum range of CO2 emissions reductions up to 2030 is between 14% and 21%. For the energy consumption this varies between 7% and 11%.

If the secondary production route is analysed (scrap iron used as the main iron-bearing raw material in electric arc furnaces), the improvements in the CO2 emissions and energy consumption are around 11% and 6% respectively.

Some cost-effective improvements with a more significant impact on energy consumption and CO2 emissions, however, can still be made in the industry, depending on the success of some of the innovative technologies still under research.

Global competition, widespread fluctuation in energy prices, and uncertainties about future energy prices are barriers that can prevent the industry from achieving these improvements. In the context of this study, the JRC has also developed a tool to analyse these effects, helping policy-makers to deal with these barriers.