The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), in a new study, suggests measures to decouple the growth of the iron and steel sector from rising carbon emissions by making green hydrogen an important part of steel manufacturing.

This comes within couple of days of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address, wherein he announced the launch of the National Hydrogen Mission to make India a global hub for the production and export of green hydrogen.

The country’s iron and steel sector is set to be the largest consumer of green hydrogen in any individual sector, making it an important driver of the hydrogen economy.

The study, ‘Green Steel through Hydrogen Direct Reduction: A study on the role of hydrogen in the Indian Iron and Steel sector,’ is a joint effort by TERI, Primetals Technologies Austria GmbH, Austria, and Siemens India, and provides a techno-economic analysis of the Hydrogen Direct Reduction process. It seeks to outline the potential of green hydrogen technologies, and discusses the suitability of this technology in the Indian context and recommends the potential next steps to advance this technology.

DR-EAF steel-making route

Hydrogen steel-making has the potential to drastically reduce CO2 emissions from primary steel-making in India, making it one of the first major economies to industrialise without the need to ‘carbonise’.

According to the study, one of the leading technology options is using low or zero carbon hydrogen as a reducing agent in a direct reduction (DR) plant and subsequently such low or zero carbon power for the electric arc furnace (EAF), to allow the production of green steel.

Currently steel production via the DR-EAF route based on hydrogen is more expensive than conventional steel-making routes. The path to cost-competitiveness for hydrogen steel-making can be accelerated by broader action around the production of hydrogen, as well as supportive climate policy, the study says.

Collaborative efforts

The study recommends proactive collaboration between companies and government for hydrogen steel-making to reach its potential of drastically reducing CO2 emissions from primary steel-making in India

“Like its global compatriots, the steel industry in India is facing the challenges of reducing carbon emissions and improving energy as well as resource efficiency. Hydrogen steel-making has the potential to drastically reduce carbon emissions from iron and steel sector,” Dr Vibha Dhawan, Director General, TERI, said.

“Green steel production today still costs a lot. In developing countries like India there is a disadvantage as the carbon price is still not readily available. In India we are not there at this point. However, the technology is available, and that is a starting point,” Gerd Deusser, Executive Vice President, Head-Energy, Siemens Ltd, said.

With stakeholder cooperation, governmental push for research and development, along with policy initiatives promoting green steel production, India’s efforts to decarbonise this hard-to-abate sector can become a reality.