Sweden’s HYBRIT delivers world’s first fossil-free steel

Northern Sweden's green steel industry aims to decarbonize an industry that accounts for around 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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A worker climbs on steel bars at a construction site of a subway in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China on August 14, 2018. (Reuters Stringer)

STOCKHOLM — Swedish green steel venture HYBRIT said on Wednesday that it had made the world’s first customer delivery of steel produced without using coal as it looks to revolutionize an industry that accounts for around 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

HYBRIT, owned by SSAB, state-owned utility Vattenfall and miner LKAB, said it would deliver the steel to truck-maker Volvo AB as a trial run before full commercial production in 2026.

“I’m happy to be minister for enterprise and energy in a country where industry is bubbling with energy for a (green) reset,” Ibrahim Baylan, Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation, told a press conference on Wednesday.

HYBRIT started test operations at its pilot plant for fossil-free steel in Lulea, northern Sweden, a year ago.

[The world’s first fossil-free steelmaking starts in northern Sweden]

It aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. Hydrogen is a key part of the EU’s plan to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

SSAB, which accounts for 10 percent of Sweden’s and 7 percent of Finland’s carbon dioxide emissions, said the trial delivery was an “important step towards a completely fossil-free value chain”.

“The goal is to deliver fossil-free steel to the market and demonstrate the technology on an industrial scale as early as 2026,” it said in a statement.

[Pulling power: the green lure of Sweden’s industrial far north]

Another green steel venture, H2 Green Steel, is planning to build a fossil fuel-free steel plant in the north of Sweden, including a sustainable hydrogen facility, with production starting in 2024.

Volvo said in April it would start production this year of prototype vehicles and components from the green steel.

Reporting by Helena Soderpalm.