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Swiss Steel Group relies on hydropower to produce special steels

by David Fleschen

Swiss Steel Group has reached another milestone on the road to decarbonization. Steeltec, the Group’s Swiss plant located in Emmenbrücke, is now relying exclusively on Swiss hydropower to produce its special steels. A game-changing strategic partnership was also concluded with Axpo Holding AG. The Swiss plant can already boast very low emission values and is reducing CO2 emissions even further in taking this step.

The steel industry distinguishes between two production routes, the primary and secondary route, respectively, using the blast furnace and the electric arc furnace route. In a blast furnace route, mined iron ore is melted into pig iron and ultimately into steel. This process produces new steel of the highest quality grades, often with very high CO2 emissions. The secondary route with the electric arc furnace works exclusively with steel scrap and thus emits much less CO2 than the primary route and thus the main source of energy is electricity.

The Swiss Steel Group has decided to pursue the electric arc route exclusively in its steel mills. Owing to the use of scrap, decarbonized energy and a functioning cyclic economy, the Group’s emissions are around 78% below the industry average.

The ecological footprint of the Emmenbrücke plant is the lowest within Swiss Steel Group. In 2020, the steel mill only emitted 63 kg of CO2 per ton of crude steel produced in scopes 1 and 2. This value is good compared to the industry average of around 1890 kg of CO2 produced per ton of crude steel. In switching to electricity provided by Swiss hydropower, Steeltec is using not just local energy, but also lowering its numbers further. Customers profit from rolled and bright steel material with an outstanding ecological value proposition that lets them noticeably reduce their upstream footprint.

Under the terms of the contract, Axpo will supply the steel mill in Emmenbrücke until 2024 with electricity certifiably generated at hydropower stations belonging to Axpo’s fleet of Swiss power plants and at a contractually agreed price. In concluding this contract, Swiss Steel Group is betting not only on sustainability and green electricity, but is also being given the security the Group needs for long-term planning regarding electricity costs and ensures that the Group’s already low emissions can be reduced even further than the industry average.

“We are proud today to be able to offer our customers steel melted exclusively with the use of Swiss hydropower,” said Frank Koch, CEO of Swiss Steel Group AG on the occasion of the switch to green electricity. “We are thus making not only a decisive contribution to the decarbonization of our industry, but also to a greener, more sustainable society.”

Laurent Nanzer, Head of Organization Switzerland at Axpo, commented further: “We have seen a strongly growing demand for electricity from hydropower and other renewable energies in Switzerland similar to the trend in the rest of Europe. The awareness of production processes that have the lowest possible CO2 emissions has increased in many industries. With our long-standing expertise throughout Europe and our innovative customer solutions, also including electricity supply contracts and PPAs, we take a decisive part in facilitating the success of domestic industry’s switching to production that is more environmentally friendly and further reducing CO2 emissions.

The Switzerland locations, however, are not the only Group sites using renewable energy. The steel mill in Canada and bright steel production in Düsseldorf, Germany are also producing steel entirely with electricity from renewable sources. Production in Germany and France is also switching to renewable energy to meet customer demands.

Thanks to our technical expertise in recycling and electric arc furnace technology, the highest operating standards, and the use of energy from renewable sources, Swiss Steel Group is one of the leading suppliers of Green Steel.

Source: Swiss Steel Group, Photo: Fotolia

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