RePowerEU: EU policies must secure energy supply and speed up hydrogen infrastructure to support steel industry’s transition, warns EUROFER
A revision of the European energy system positioning industrial consumers at its heart is key to overcome both the current energy and climate crises, as EU industry will be the main driver for clean energy markets. In particular, short-term relief measures for companies affected by high energy prices, swift realisation of hydrogen infrastructure and priority access to hydrogen supplies for the sector should be granted immediately, while avoiding disruptions of gas supply as long as alternative infrastructure is not available. These are the main takeaways from the Energy Manifesto of the European steel industry, published on the occasion of the release of the European Commission Communication on RePowerEU.
“Without strategic industrial energy consumers such as steel on board, the energy transition will not be successful. Energy intensive industries need to be integrated across all levels of policy making and political discussions as the key enablers of the decarbonisation and the independence of the European energy system”, said Axel Eggert, Director General of the European Steel Association (EUROFER). “Rapid access of the steel industry to green hydrogen will boost hydrogen markets in Europe. But alternative gas supplies other than from Russia will remain crucial as long as no hydrogen infrastructure at affordable costs is available. We need a revision of the EU energy strategy in the sake of cohesion, cooperation, and cross-sectoral dialogue”, he added.
The combined effects of the energy crisis and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia have added further hurdles on the EU steel industry’s decarbonisation pathway as the EU is not ready to deliver sufficient quantities of low-carbon energy carriers. This highlights the urgency of establishing the right conditions at EU level to support the transition towards climate neutrality.
The new EU energy strategy should pursue short and medium-term measures to cope with the current challenges, by guaranteeing security of gas supplies and swiftly implementing the previous EU toolbox measures to mitigate the impact of price surge on European industry.
At the same time, the revision of the EU energy system must include a long-term strategy ensuring cost-effective consumption and access to energy for industrial sectors as enablers of the energy transition. The European Green Deal and the Fit-for-55 package should be adjusted accordingly. The first strategic objective is to make clean energy available and grant access in large quantities at an affordable price to meet the climate neutrality and sectoral energy targets.
“For the time being, no hydrogen economy or infrastructure exists for the steel sector. Our industry alone will need over 150 TWh of ‘clean’ electricity – half of which for the production of hydrogen - by 2030 to run its 60 low carbon projects across the EU. These needs are the equivalent of two times the electricity consumption of Belgium”, said Mr. Eggert.
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