There can be no sustainable revolution in the steel supply chain without the contribution of digital technologies. This was the message that emerged at the event “Digitization as an engine for sustainable growth,” organized by siderweb.
There has long been a debate on how to transform the sector with a view to greater sustainability. Also in light of external factors that are promoting the green transformation. In line with climate commitments made at national and European level. From consumer attitudes, oriented toward companies and products with a lower environmental impact, to regulatory pressure (aiming at carbon neutrality), passing through the growth in the price of CO2 emission quotas set by Europe.
The road to decarbonization
Under this scenario, the road to decarbonization of the steel industry will go through two phases. As Yvonne Ruf, partner at Roland Berger, a consulting firm, explains. “Phase one will be the gradual replacement of blast furnaces with hydrogen DRI technology, which we see developing in pilot projects today. The second will be the complete switch to electric arc furnaces: with electricity from renewable sources, steel production can become completely carbon-neutral,” she explains.
On this path, enhancing the technological content of processes is inevitable. A process that is not always simple and requires companies to equip themselves with the right tools. As Laura Tolettini, Digital Integration Manager at Feralpi Group, explains. “Of course, the integration of new technologies with pre-existing ones is not easy. Neither from a technical nor from an organizational point of view. Central to this process are also people. With transversal skills and open to collaborations and partnerships outside the group. Also extended to players in the value chains in which we operate,” she explains.
Innovation with a view to sustainability and digitalization has, for some years now, also been the key guiding the strategy of ORI Martin, an electric furnace steel mill for the production of special steels such as 1.4828 based in Brescia. Already since 2018, the Brescia steel mill has been connected to an Air Liquide oxygen pipeline with a 5-kilometer underground pipeline, which has enabled the plant to reduce CO2 emissions and truck passages. In 2019, ORI Martin entered into a PPA (power purchase agreement) and at least 10 percent of its energy needs are covered by energy generated by a photovoltaic plant in Sardinia.
Freely excerpted and translated from https://www.innovationpost.it/tecnologie/energia-efficienza/acciaio-senza-digitalizzazione-non-ce-sostenibilita-le-strategie-delle-aziende-per-promuovere-la-rivoluzione-green/