The environmental footprint of a material or a product is best estimated through a life-cycle perspective. LCA approaches (Life Cycle Analysis) take the production phase, the use phase and end-of life recycling into account.
Overall greenhouse gas emissions in the EU 27 have decreased by 17.5 per cent in the years from 1990 to 2011. The steel sector’s emissions fell by 25 per cent from 1990 to 2010. The European Union is on its way to meet its climate targets. EU steel producers are among the global leaders not only in technology, but also in climate protection. Currently, they are conducting intensive research for breakthrough technologies which would be able to reduce CO2 emissions from steel making by more than 50 per cent. The research programme called ULCOS (Ultra-Low Carbon dioxide steelmaking) is financed by the European steel industry with support from the European Union. For more information click: http://www.ulcos.org/en/index.php
A life-cycle perspective shows that the use of steel in innovative applications saves more CO2 than is emitted in the production phase. Steel’s CO2 Balance is positive. Consultants BCG and German steel institute VdEH have looked into this on behalf of the European steel industry.
Eight case studies serve as proof for steel’s potential to protect our climate. They are applications for which steel is essential and its influence on CO2 mitigation is significant. The analysis compares improvements that will be achieved from the year 2030 to the current state-of-the-art. Here are the most prominent examples:
The total CO2 mitigation potential of the eight cases analysed in the study alone is 443 million tonnes a year. This is more than six times as much as the 70 million tonnes of emissions caused by the production of the steels needed in the applications. Go here for the full study.