Green Hydrogen Tech Can Decarbonise India’s Steel Sector: TERI

Highlights :

  • The environmental burden of steel is growing, and it will take a revolution in steelmaking technology to reduce its carbon intensity.
  • The path to cost-competitiveness for green steel can be accelerated by broader action around the production of hydrogen, as well as supportive climate policy, the study says.

Green hydrogen technologies have the potential to drastically reduce CO2 emissions from primary steelmaking in India, allowing the sector to industrialise without the need to “carbonise,” finds new research by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

The study entitled “Green Steel through Hydrogen Direct Reduction: A Study on the Role of Hydrogen in the Indian Iron and Steel sector” provides a techno-economic analysis of the hydrogen direct reduction (H-DR) process to discusses its suitability in the Indian context. The study is a joint effort by TERI, Primetals Technologies Austria GmbH, Austria, and Siemens India.

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 using such low or zero carbon power for the electric arc furnace (EAF) to allow the production of green steel.

The environmental burden of steel is growing, and it will take a revolution in steelmaking technology to reduce its carbon intensity. Hydrogen may definitely be an answer provided other issues, such as its efficiency and cost, are addressed. Syn gas may be cheaper and for the time being it can be a substitute, but we have to get to the DRI route so that in future, hydrogen can be brought in to move towards zero emission, said Dr Mukesh Kumar, Director, Steel Research & Technology Mission of India, under the aegis of the Ministry of Steel.

Currently steel production via the DR-EAF route based on hydrogen is more expensive than the conventional steelmaking routes. The path to cost-competitiveness for green steel can be accelerated by broader action around the production of hydrogen, as well as supportive climate policy, the study says. It recommends proactive collaboration between companies and government to cultivate demand for low carbon products.

The study also suggests actions for ‘supply push’ and ‘demand pull’ to be taken by governments and business. For providing a supply push, it recommends access to natural gas/syngas, demonstration plants, large-scale green finance, emissions penalty on production, and transition support for small-scale plants on the supply side. On the demand side, it suggests green product standards, corporate buyers’ clubs, and public procurement.

The findings of the study were presented in a webinar at TERI on Wednesday, followed by a panel discussion with the stakeholders that delved into the huge potential that green hydrogen had in bringing sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of India’s iron and steel industry. Reducing variability in renewable energy technologies to increase the operational hours of electrolysis was also discussed amongst industry leaders.

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, the panelists agreed.

In his recent Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of the National Hydrogen Mission, which aims to make India a global hub for the production and export of green hydrogen.

According to him, India’s iron and steel sector is set to be the largest consumer of green hydrogen, making it an important driver of the hydrogen economy being planned at present. The release of TERI’s study is thus a timely one.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.

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