EU OKs compensation for big energy users hit by power costs


European steelmakers have oft bemoaned the costs of emissions trading systems. This includes the indirect costs from higher energy prices as weell as the direct costs of emitting greenhouse gases. Now the European Union has agreed to allow some compensationfor higher electricity prices. Although this will not eliminate the added costs to steelmakers, it should, if memebr states provide the cash for compensation, mean that the future of EAF steelmakers in Europe will be decided by market conditions, not by environmental regulation.

SBB 24 May The European Commission has adopted a framework under which member states may compensate high energy users, including steel producers. This is in response to the higher electricity costs expected to result from a change to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme as from 2013.

The regulation will allow subsidies of up to 85% of the increased cost faced by the most efficient companies in each sector from 2013 to 2015, a cap that will gradually fall to 75% in 2019-2020.

However, European steel industry body Eurofer says that is grossly insufficient and will not restore the level-playing field with competitors outside the EU.

At first glance, the most impacted products (EAF steel and downstream) would be covered by a maximum 50-60% of the indirect CO2 cost, should member states give the maximum they are allowed to as per guidelines, a spokesman for Eurofer told Platts Steel Business Briefing in an emailed response to questions on Wednesday.

“Given the current economic situation and the state of public finance in the EU, we don’t expect member states to give away much,” he added.

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