Austrian metal manufacturer utilises hydrogen for green steel

As Australia grapples with how to develop its own hydrogen industry, an Austrian partnership has begun operating a green hydrogen plant to replace fossil fuels in steel production.

The plant has a capacity to produce over 6 megawatts in a CO2 neutral manner, to power voestalpine’s steel manufacturing in Linz. The facility utilises the world’s largest electrolyser, and will potentially supply power to the local grid and provide network services.

The hydrogen power generator is part of voestalpine’s investment in decarbonising steel production, and has been delivered with a consortium of partners and 18 million Euros in EU funding.

“We have set ourselves a clear goal of greater direct avoidance of CO2 emissions in steel manufacturing over the coming years,” said Herbert Eibensteiner, chairman of the Management Board of voestalpine.

Until recently, steel has had to be produced through coal-based blast furnaces, however, through using electric arc furnaces powered by electricity generated by hydrogen voestalpine hopes to produce steel without coal.

The potential of green hydrogen to decarbonise the industrial sector is one way for companies that traditionally emitted large amounts of CO2 to avoid carbon emissions in ways that cannot be done otherwise. Austrian electricity provider, Verbund, worked with voestalpine on the project, and Wolfgang Anzengruber, CEO of Verbund, noted this potential for hydrogen.

“The use of green hydrogen is both a win-win situation for power generation and industry, and a perfect example of sector coupling through electrification,” said Anzengruber.

There is also potential for green hydrogen to be used in other industrial applications that would otherwise be difficult to electrify or decarbonise, as Bart Biebuyck, executive director of public-private partnership Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) pointed out.

“Green hydrogen produced through electrolysis, using electricity from renewable energy sources, can be used by industries like steel production, refineries, methanol or ammonia, making their products green,” he said.