Drivers and opportunities
High-strength steel providea competitive advantage
Steel is needed for infrastructural development and growth around the world. However, there are increased demands on resource management and sustainable development – to the advantage of the high-strength steel products.
Great potential in the transport sector
The world is dependent on transportation. People, products and goods around the world are being carried by various means of transport every day. Transportation accounts for 20 percent of total global primary energy use and approximately 13 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Steel enables safer transportation through increased protection for passengers and freight. The use of high strength steel in transportation vehicles means that the weight and thereby fuel consumption can be reduced, which contributes to reduced emissions. New, innovative designs can further increase the efficiency of the vehicle. From a product life cycle perspective, there is potential to reduce passenger car greenhouse gas emissions by almost 70 percent. Steel is also crucial in the design of new, high-speed rail transport.
Renewable energy is increasing
Structures for exploiting renewable energy would not have reached their current state of development without steel. New technologic innovations continue, with steel as an important part of the solution. Wind towers, solar power plants and wave power plants all require durable and strong structures in order to convert the forces of nature into clean energy and to distribute the energy to where it is needed.
Resource efficiency and recycling
Steel is one of the most recycled construction materials in the world. When all sectors are considered, over 70 percent of steel is recycled globally. Efficient use of resources is an issue which has a bearing on both the economy and the environment. Obsolete steel structures give rise to new raw materials, instead of generating waste. In addition to surplus energy, the steel production process also gives rise to a number of by-products. For example, slag is processed into new products with various areas of use instead of being deposited in landfills, and energyrich gases become electricity and district heating instead of being burnt off. The industry’s objective is to minimize waste and to deposit in landfills as little waste as possible.
Challenges and risks
Carbon dioxide and technical development
The world steel industry accounts for almost 7 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions. In Sweden, SSAB accounts for a large share of the country's total emissions. SSAB discharges on average 1.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of produced steel, compared with the global average of 1.8 tonnes. With currently known technology, carbon dioxide emissions from iron ore-based steel production can be reduced only marginally. Increased demands for reduced carbon dioxide emissions require new steel production technology. To achieve a more radical reduction in emissions both carbon dioxide capture and storage is required. Extensive research and development is taking place within these areas.
Suppliers and raw materials
Changes in the price of iron ore pellets, coal and scrap metal are affected by the balance between supply and demand. In the long term, demand is increasing for efficient use of resources and utilization of by-products in both the production and user stages. The objective is to secure access to raw materials from reliable suppliers with a high level of responsibility for both people and the environment. The ability of companies to impose requirements and monitor conditions at their suppliers constitutes an important confidence issue. Stringent requirements regarding safe working conditions are imposed, particularly in respect of the raw materials industry, which is often associated with a risk prone work environment.
Generational shift and competition for skills
Many companies in the industrial sector are facing a significant generational shift and are competing for skilled employees on local markets which are critical for their business, as well as on an increasingly global labor market. SSAB is actively engaged in skills development and in managing a generational shift in the organization. SSAB must be an attractive employer which offers opportunities for development and a safe workplace, even in risk-filled working environments.