Steelmakers across the globe are under pressure to reduce their carbon emissions because of concerns about climate change and the toll it's taking on the planet.
ArcelorMittal has been working to reduce its carbon emissions worldwide by 8% next year as compared to 2007 and will set a new carbon target next year in anticipation of future government regulations. U.S. Steel hopes to voluntarily cut its carbon emissions by 20% by 2030.
Another steelmaker hopes to make completely fossil fuel-free steel in the United States by 2026.
SSAB Americas aims to start making steel with a fossil fuel-free process at a mill in Montpelier, Iowa that will be powered entirely by renewable energy by 2022.
“SSAB continues to innovate our products and manufacturing processes, and accordingly, we will transition toward fossil-free steelmaking and renewable energy,” said Chuck Schmitt, president of SSAB Americas, a division of global steelmaker SSAB. “Our customers, end users and OEMs are excited to collaborate with us to enable them to be the first in their respective sectors to use SSAB fossil-free steel in their products. Ultimately, our goal is to create a completely fossil-free value chain, from the raw materials and through to the end products.”
The company, a subsidiary of SSAB in Sweden, operates mini-mills with electric arc furnaces that turn recycled scrap metal into new steel. It plans to start making sponge iron, a direct reduction of iron ore to iron, without using any fossil fuels to ultimately produce advanced high-strength steels like Hardox and Strenx at its U.S. mills in Alabama and Iowa.
The steel mill in Iowa will start making steel for heavy construction equipment, bridges and other infrastructure using power from wind farms in Iowa. It plans to utilize 100% renewable power provided by MidAmerican Energy, a subsidiary of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
“MidAmerican is proud to deliver clean, renewable energy to our customers like SSAB so they can offer sustainable products and services to the people who rely on them,” said Adam Wright, president and CEO of MidAmerican Energy. “We are continuing to invest in clean energy so that together with our customers, we can achieve a 100% renewable energy future that is great for the environment and important for our economy.”
Northwest Indiana's steelmakers burn coke, a purified form of coal, in their blast furnaces in order to make pig iron. They have explored alternatives over the years but U.S. Steel pulled the plug on the most high-profile project, the Carbonyx coke alternative it poured $210 million into, in 2014 after it failed to yield the desired results.