On 15th October partners of the RE4 Industry consortium had an opportunity to participate in 3 workshops dedicated to the preliminary analysis of industry needs and potential solutions of the tree industrial partners involved in the project.
Iron and steel sector – Sidenor
Sidenor is a steel company, leader in the European steel industry for the production of special steel long products. It is also an important supplier of cold finished products in the European market. The company has production centers in Basque Country, Cantabria and Catalonia as well as business delegations in Germany, France, Italy and the U.K.
Specific description (Sidenor):
For the case of Sidenor, a proposal of renewables to substitute its main fossil-based energy requirements was made:
The decarbonization measure already taken by Sidenor has been acquisition of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Additionally, Sidenor has considered the installation of photovoltaics on the group’s factories for self-consumption, thus reducing the environmental impact of electricity generation.
Within the technologies to substitute the use of natural gas, Sidenor is exploring the possibility of using Biomethane or Green hydrogen. Biomethane, or also sometimes called bionatural gas due to its similar composition to the fossil-based gas and ease implementation, will be obtained from the purification of biogas produced by the anaerobic digestion of organic waste from livestock farms.
On the other side, Sidenor is part of the Basque Hydrogen Corridor, an initiative to acquire green H2 in the coming years. The initiative groups 78 organizations and it is expected to make 20k tons of green H2 available per year. From a technical point of view, it is worth mentioning that the implementation of H2 brings some challenges to take into consideration when substituting natural gas:
- Three times more units of H2 are required to substitute one unit of natural gas.
- Not visible flame, thus, complex flame detection.
- Furnace retrofitting required and the influence of H2 on final product quality is still uncertain.
- H2 > 10% requires replacement of burners and part of the gas installation.
Regarding the use of a renewable solution to substitute coal, biochar produced from biomass could be used. An approach considered by the sector but still requiring further development.
Image caption: “From a brownfield steel plant into a green steel plant based on renewables”.
Note: The image above represents a steel plant based on the use of iron ore as a feedstock for the Blast furnace process. It does not represent the steel-making process like the one used at Sidenor based on Scrap as feedstock for an Electric Arc Furnace. The illustration does represent an overall idea for the gradual decarbonisation of the iron and steel industry. Illustration by Thomas Andrae in Berger, F. R. (2020). “The future of steelmaking–How the European steel industry can achieve carbon neutrality”. Roland Berger GMBH.
- https://www.sidenor.com/en/sidenor-joins-the-basque-hydrogen-corridor-bh2c/ https://www.sidenor.com/en/sidenor-and-grupo-enhol-join-forces-to-develop-projects-linked-to-sustainable-economy/
- 4th ESTEP web-workshop “Resi4Future” – 11/2020
- Berger, F. R. (2020). The future of steelmaking–How the European steel industry can achieve carbon neutrality. Roland Berger GMBH.
Chemical sector – CORBION
CORBION is the global market leader in lactic acid and lactic acid derivatives, and a leading company in emulsifiers, functional enzyme blends, minerals, vitamins, and algae ingredients. Corbion is thus a strong sustainable ingredient solutions company in biochemicals and food and will become the main use case in the Netherlands.
Biomass Technology Group (BTG) presented the Corbion case study concerning their decarbonization vision and a few decarbonization technologies that complemented such a vision towards 2030 and beyond.
The decarbonization vision of the company is to reduce the internal GHG emission by 33% in 2030. Corbion’s 2030 target is approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. Progress is reported compared to 2016 as a base year, which is summarized in the figure below:
Corbion already carries out several activities to reduce the energy consumption. This case study focuses on replacing the 10-12 MW natural gas fired boiler at its Gorinchem (the Netherlands) production site (scope I emissions).
Case study leader BTG shared potential suitable decarbonization technologies which were, amongst others, the e-boiler, high temperature heat pumps, combustion of solid (e.g., chips and pellets) and liquid (e.g., pyrolysis oil) biomass, and hydrogen from electrolysis of renewable electricity. Each technology has its pros and cons.
As for the e-boiler, this technology is commercially available and national (SDE++) exploitation subsidy can be applied for. However, an e-boiler can only be considered a partial solution as the subsidy is available for a maximum of 3000 hours per year. In comparison, a high temperature heat pump achieves a higher efficiency, and SDE++ subsidy can be applied for 8000 hours per year. Yet, financial feasibility is questionable, and it cannot supply all the required energy, so other renewable energy sources are required. Biomass combustion, which is a commercially available technology, could replace the use of natural gas for 70-80% in case of pyrolysis oil combustion and nearly 100% in case of solid biomass combustion. However, it has a large space requirement, and a lot of truck transport would be needed to supply the feedstock. The use of hydrogen from electrolysis is another demonstrated technology which is positively perceived by policy makers and the public but is still expensive and lacks infrastructure.
All decarbonization options have been discussed collectively with the workshop attendees, and as a result gave a much clearer and comprehensive view thereof.
Aluminium Sector – MYTILINEOS
The RE4Industry case study in Greece focuses on the Metallurgy Business Unit of MYTILINEOS and in particular Aluminium of Greece. The facility, located in Agios Nikolaos Viotias – about two hour’s drive west of Athens – is the only vertically integrated bauxite, alumina and aluminium producer with asset base in Europe.
In February 2021, MYTILINEOS became the first Greek company to make an ambitious, formal commitment for its decarbonisation targets according to the ESG (Enviroment, Social and Government) performance indices aiming for 30 % reduction of its total direct and indirect CO2 emissions by 2030 (compared to 2019) and net zero emissions across its entire business activity by 2050.
For the Metallurgy Business unit of MYTILINEOS, the goal is to achieve by 2030 a 65 % reduction of its absolute emissions by 65% and, respectively, a 75 % reduction of its relative emissions (as measured per ton of aluminium produced).
MYTILINEOS and CERTH (Centre for Research and Technology Hellas) collaborate in the framework of the RE4Industry project in order to identify and assess renewable energy technology options that could be adopted by Aluminium of Greece in order to reach these ambitious goals.
The internal workshop that was held on 15th October 2021 aimed to present to the wider RE4Industry consortium the current progress of the case study. Some of the main points can be summarized below:
- The facility of Aluminium of Greece is one of the largest – if not the largest – industrial energy consumers of the country.
- Production of primary aluminium is a highly electro-intensive process. Electricity prices have a huge impact in the competitiveness of the final product. MYTILINEOS is already active in both diversifying and decarbonizing its electricity sourcing, through new investments in its Power & Gas Business Unit, PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) with renewable energy installations as well as developing and promoting the Green Pool1 concept for the decarbonization of the Greek energy intensive industry sector.
- Production of alumina is more dependent on thermal energy, which is also used in several other process steps. MYTILINEOS / Aluminium of Greece have already taken steps to reduce the carbon footprint of thermal energy, through switching to natural gas combustion over liquid fossil fuels as well as installing back in 2008 a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant, supplying steam to the industry. Decarbonizing industrial heat is a more challenging task, but some potential solutions that could be deployed till 2030 have been identified and are currently assessed.