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.