One of the most important themes to emerge from SBB’s Green Steel Strategies conference was that the steel industry is not communicating its progress on environmental issues effectively. This could also be holding back investments as the industry is not properly communicating with providers of state funding, some suggest.
SBB 7 April While economics can make it difficult to implement the breakthrough technologies necessary to reduce steelmakers’ carbon emissions, a panel of financial executives said yesterday options are available to help fund them.
“I think the steel industry in Europe needs to raise its game in competing for funding, for political attention,” Christopher Beauman, senior adviser to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, told attendees at Steel Business Briefing’s Green Steel Strategies conference in Brussels. “Only through communication will you get access to bankers, and also to political support.”
Unproven but promising technologies such as the Ultra-low CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS) programme, carbon sequestration and high-strength lightweight steel production are expensive. But Beauman and his fellow panelists said steelmakers don’t have to go it alone.
Alan Haigh of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel, an organization that helps finance technologically innovative pilot projects undertaken by companies based in European Union member states – as well as their operations abroad – said his organization has an annual budget of €55m (US$78m).
“This is a fund that provides research funding to support the competitiveness of European steel, and it’s available year-on-year,” Haigh said.
He pointed to ongoing European ULCOS pilot projects aimed at minimizing steelmaking’s environmental footprint. “It’s clearly one of our flagship projects,” he said.
Michael Van Hoey, a principal at McKinsey & Co, said, “Historically, the steel industry actually has not received its fair share of funding,” unlike the power and chemical industries. “Be a little bit more proactive,” he said.