Energy efficiency

SSAB’s production processes are energy intensive. Systematic energy efficiency management and energy recovery at all sites, as well as production of electricity from process gases at steel mills, ensure efficient use of energy and lower emissions.

Continuous work to improve energy efficiency

Energy efficiency management is systematically promoted at all of our production sites, mainly as part of an ISO 14001 system.

SSAB’s energy savings target is to reduce the use of purchased energy by 400 GWh by the end of 2020 (corresponding to ~5% of purchased energy in 2014, the base year). By the end of 2020, we achieved approximately 483 GWh or 121% of this target. During the target period, we have taken several measures to reach the targeted savings, such as the following:

  • A new, more efficient blast machine for the blast furnace in Luleå reduces electricity consumption
  • Optimized media systems for compressed air and hydraulics, as well as furnace control systems at several SSAB sites
  • Oxygen lancing in a reheating furnace in Borlänge
  • Replacement of old lighting fixtures with LED technology in Oxelösund, Luleå, Borlänge, Mobile and Montpelier
  • A new power plant with higher efficiency in Raahe

In 2020, SSAB’s total energy consumption (including electricity, purchased fuels and purchased heat) was 9,083 (9,088) GWh and SSAB’s energy intensity was 1,203 (1,188) kWh/tonne crude steel (including electricity and purchased fuels). In 2020, SSAB’s crude steel production was 7,535 (7,623) thousand tonnes. Also production stability impacts the efficiency of energy usage.

Energy sources – our long-term aim is to switch to fossil-free energy

The main fuels used at SSAB’s production sites are process gases, natural gas, propane and, for the time being, heavy fuel oil. Process gases from SSAB’s coke oven plants and blast furnaces are used primarily to replace external fuels in ovens and secondarily to produce electricity in power plants. Natural gas, propane and oil are used to heat up furnaces. Currently, SSAB does not consume renewable fuels in production processes, but as part of our long-term goal to become fossil-free in our operations by 2045, one important goal is to eliminate fuel-related emissions. This will be achieved through the electrification of processes and increased use of biofuels.

Today, electricity is our largest energy source, accounting for ~50% of the total energy consumption. At our US sites, electricity is the most important energy source used in the electric arc furnaces to melt recycled steel. In line with SSAB’s global ambitions, the company anticipates that our operations in Iowa, USA, which utilize scrap-based electric arc furnace technology, will be powered completely by renewable electricity by 2022 (primarily wind energy). SSAB in the US also will be able to offer fossil-free steel products starting in 2026, utilizing sponge iron developed through the HYBRIT initiative in Sweden.

Energy recovery at steel mills decreases CO2 emissions

To improve energy efficiency, energy flows are recycled in the production process (see the illustration). Process gases like blast furnace gas, coke oven gas and converter gas are generated in the iron- and steelmaking processes. Steam and hot water are also produced. These energy flows can be fully recovered to generate electricity and heat, thereby saving fuel resources and decreasing CO2 emissions. Recovered heat has been used to produce district heating in Luleå, Oxelösund and Raahe since the 1980s, accounting for about 90% of local district heating needs. In 2020, 1,184 (1,056) GWh of electricity was produced from recovered energy and SSAB delivered 1,097 (1,165) GWh of district heating.