Posts Tagged ‘European Commission’

EU OKs compensation for big energy users hit by power costs

The European steel industry is undergoing a transition linked to its current economic difficulties and the slowdown of steel demand. At the same time, steelmakers are concerned by added regulatory costs. The environment would, in theory, benefit from an increase in EAF steelmaking capacity as opposed to blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace capacity. However, future electricity costs, the main cost element of EAF steel, will determine the relative level of investment.

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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EBRD: Little future for carbon capture in the steel industry

SBB 23 April A critical lack of funding and the high cost of developing and implementing carbon capture and storage (CCS) mean it is unlikely to become widespread in the steel industry, senior advisor to the European Bank of Reconstruction & Development, Christopher Beauman told delegates at Platts Steel Business Briefing’s third annual Green Steel Strategies conference in Berlin.

Some funding is being made available in Europe, pointed out Baroness Worthington of Sandbag which campaigns for action on climate change. The European Commission has made revenues from the sale of 300m carbon credits available to CCS projects, with a current market value of around €2.25bn ($2.97bn).

However, the funding is not sufficient to counteract the huge cost of investment. A relatively cost-efficient steelmaker would become unsustainable if it carried the cost of installing CCS alone. The funding in Europe is insufficient and there is even less of it available in other regions, Beauman argued. Furthermore, the funding that is available is focused almost entirely on the power sector.

In Europe the only steelmaking CCS project remains ArcelorMittal’s project at Florange in France. This intends to develop a top-gas recycling blast furnace which will produce waste gases with no carbon monoxide, making them suitable for underground storage. Part the Europe’s Ultra-Low CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS) project, the plant is expected to generate results by 2014.

There is some chance that CCS funding will become available in China as Beijing has noted that it is a technology it wants to develop in the current five-year plan (2011-2015). However, this too is likely to be focused on the power sector and the availability of storage sites may also be an issue, Beauman said.

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.

Eurofer expects EC to ‘stick to the rules’ on climate change

With international climate change negotiations still making slow progress, regions are taking their own steps to tackle the issue. Steelmakers’ associations, concerned by the added cost to their members, have fought a rearguard action against stricter emissions regulations. Both European Commission’s DG Climate Action and Eurofer have argued firmly about what measures are and are not legitimate. But what is clear is that the steel industry will have to adapt to a more regulated and greener economy. To learn how the industry can adapt to, and even profit from, increased regulation, come to SBB’s third annual Green Steel Strategies conference in berlin on 19-20 April.

SBB 26 December Some EU member states are in favour of moving to a 30% carbon emission reduction target and the European Commission will present a member state-led study of the investment benefits of a 30% target in the first half of 2012, the commission tells Steel Business Briefing.

However, Eurofer says it “does not see how [the] Durban [conference] could have given grounds for any stricter targets in the period before 2020”. In particular, any increase in EU targets is to be linked to binding reductions in other regions. “None of the conditions set by the EU Emissions Trading System (and set in the ETS) have been fulfilled in Durban,” Eurofer notes.

One source states that following the relative success of international climate change negotiations in Durban, proponents of faster reductions have “more energy”.

The European Court decided to include non-EU airlines in the ETS; The commission released guidelines on state compensation for higher energy prices resulting from the ETS; and the European Parliament’s environment and industry committees have approved the removal of 1.4bn carbon phase 3 carbon credits from the ETS, in order to strengthen prices.

Before the set-aside takes effect it must be first voted in by the parliament’s industry committee, the EU member states and the plenary session of the parliament, explains Carine Hemery of carbon market analysts, Orbeo. This is unlikely to be complete before June.

EU carbon compensation may meet 60% of steelmakers’ need

EAF steelmaking produces significant;y less carbon dioxide directly than integrated steelmaking. however, EAFs are far more vulnerable to increasing energy prices. EU compensation is necessary to maintain the competetiveness of the industry. For more information on how steelmakers, rollers and distributors can ensure their businesses are economically, as well as environmentally, sustainable, come to Steel Business Briefing’s third annual Green Steel Strategies conference in Berlin on 19-20 April.

SBB 22 December The European Commission (EC) released, on 21 December, its guidelines on state aid for industry to compensate industry, including EAF steelmakers, for higher electricity prices as a result of the Emissions Trading System (ETS). However, the provision could mean only 60% of steelmakers’ additional costs are met, Eurofer tells Steel Business Briefing

Elements of the document are unjustified, agrees Ian Rodgers, policy director of UK Steel. One key issue is that the document calls for a maximum of 85% of the theoretical additional costs to be compensated, falling to 80% in 2016-2018 and 75% in 2019-2020.

The EC argues that this is to incentivise less efficient facilities to invest in energy efficiency. However, UK Steel argues that this is unnecessary as the calculation of theoretical costs already includes a benchmark. This means that only the most efficient plants could possibly receive full compensation.

The theoretical costs are also calculated using production levels from 2005-2011. For much of this period Europe was in recession and production levels were abnormally low. This would mean lower levels of compensation for EAF plants, the associations complain. Furthermore, the EC can only give a maximum figure for compensation, meaning EU member states could actually give less than this in reality.

Eurofer hopes that EU member states will support its views and force a revision of the document by the end of the consultation period in January. Germany is likely to support amendments, SBB understands and UK Steel confirms it will ask the UK government to act.

Tata Steel welcomes UK carbon compensation plan

SBB 30 November The UK chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister), George Osborne, yesterday announced a £250m (€293m) package to compensate the country’s energy-intensive industries, including the steel industry, for higher energy prices relating to carbon dioxide emissions regulations. The move is a “step in the right direction,” Karl-Ulrich Köhler, Tata Steel’s managing director and chief executive in Europe, tells Steel business Briefing.

Although the exact details are not yet available, this “should probably be adequate for steel producers,” Jeremy Nicholson, director of industry lobby the Energy Intensive Users Group, tells SBB. The steel industry could receive somewhere in the region of £30m per year in compensation, the group believes.

Indirect compensation for the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) can be carried out in accordance with EU guidance, which is currently being drafted. The ETS forces industrial units to account for their carbon dioxide emissions using carbon credits, which can be bought on the market.

Compensation for the UK’s Carbon Price Floor (CPF) is likely to require approval from the European Commission under state aid regulations. “So it is not yet clear whether 100% or some lesser amount of the CPF impact on electricity prices will actually be compensated for by the time the measure receives approval (assuming it does),” Nicholson points out.

“Some of the most crucial detail remains unclear and this relief could be short-lived,” Köhler warns. He also welcomed a number of other measures announced in the chancellor’s report.

Eurofer sues the European Commission over BF benchmark

In July the European steel producers’ association, Eurofer, submitted its long-awaited legal suit against the Emissions Trading System (ETS). But whether or not its complaints carry legal weight, the suit is unlikely to be resolved for another two years. By that time steelmakers will already be facing the costs of phase III of the ETS. The only certain way to manage the costs of carbon trading therefore remains investment in energy efficiency and emissions reduction technologies. While the benchmark may be technically impossible to achieve while maintaining production levels, the difference in costs faced by the most and the least efficient European plants could have a significant impact on competitiveness.

SBB 22 July The European steel producers’ association, Eurofer, has filed a legal challenge to the European Commission’s carbon dioxide emissions benchmark for hot metal production. Eurofer claims that the EU’s wrongly-determined benchmark could cost the industry an additional €600m ($862m)/year from 2013 to 2020.

The benchmark – in C02 t/tonne hot metal – decides the number of free carbon credits each integrated steelmaker receives from 2013. It is meant to represent the average of the 10% most efficient plants.

However, the commission’s benchmark is technically unachievable, comments Eurofer director general, Gordon Moffat. “Nowhere in the world is there a steelworks that could operate its plant at the level of this benchmark,” he tells Steel Business Briefing.

At issue is the use of blast furnace off-gases to produce electricity. Eurofer wants all the steelmakers’ CO2 to be included in the benchmark.

In contrast, the commission argues that steelmakers should not be given free credits for electricity generation. It has calculated the amount of carbon dioxide that would be released if natural gas, rather than BF gases are used to generate power, and reduced the benchmark by that amount. Eurofer notes that the EU’s emissions trading directive allows free allocations to be given to electricity production from waste gases.

“The benchmark rules have been approved by EU member states and the European Parliament after a thorough consultation analysis. We are confident that court will side with us,” DG Climate Action spokesman, Isaac Valero-Ladron tells SBB.

Poland is also separately suing the commission over the benchmarks. Unless the European Court of Justice decides on fast tracking, the case could take two and a half years, Eurofer notes.