What is fossil-free steel and why now?

The global challenge of halting and reversing current rates of climate change is urgent. The steel industry has the potential to play a significant role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions both in the production phase and by supporting current rates of recycling.

Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are recognized as one of the main contributors to climate change. CO2, along with other greenhouse gases - methane and halocarbons - is essential for controlling Earth’s temperature, but too much carbon dioxide can severely alter the carbon cycle. Without any greenhouse gases, the Earth would be frozen at -18 Celsius, and with too many, Earth would be like Venus, an inferno at about 400 Celsius. Hence, the right levels are crucial.

The future of steel

Steel is a commodity that underpins the foundation of society, used to build anything that needs to withstand forces over a long period of time – including skyscrapers, bridges, heavy machinery, vehicles, medical equipment, household appliances, railways, pipes, and much more. But, without addressing the industry’s CO2 emissions, the value of steel will be severely undermined.

As an industry leader, SSAB knows that fossil-free steel is vital for a sustainable future. In response to environmental need and a positive demand from stakeholders - including customers and investors - SSAB is investing in ambitious innovations to deliver CO2 emission-free steel to the market in 2026. Rather than trying to mitigate operations, SSAB has actively chosen to address the root cause of CO2 emissions in steelmaking: blast furnace emissions.

The environment is in our hands

Becoming fossil free is business critical for SSAB. Reducing the greenhouse gas footprint will be no simple task; transforming a large industrial company takes time and that is why we are starting now. By leading the way, SSAB can set the industry standard. For our business, the targets set for greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2, have been approved by the Science Based Target initiative.

SSAB’s Executive Vice President and Head of Sustainability Christina Friborg explains:

“Revolutionizing steelmaking is a strategic goal for us – both from a commercial perspective and a sustainability one. We believe commercial success goes hand in hand with meeting our sustainability targets.”

“Implementing innovative breakthroughs boosts our industry and puts pressure other industries, businesses and individuals to follow our lead.”

Innovation for a commercially sustainable future

Other stakeholders in the steel industry are taking steps to invest in and innovate elements of the steelmaking process, and these initiatives are boosting the ‘green steel’ agenda. However, SSAB’s progression with HYBRIT technology leads the race. In addition, by replacing the traditional iron ore reduction process with fossil-free technology SSAB will gain a commercial advantage and position as a sustainability pioneer – all while creating a final product that has the exact same quality and proporties as traditional steel.

When SSAB deliver the world’s first fossil-free steel to the market in 2026, this will just be the beginning of a major commercial transition. By using fossil-free energy and methods throughout the production process, SSAB will enable customers and end users to become part of the fossil-free value chain, which will become a standard for all businesses in the future.

SSAB’s vision is ambitious, and it aims to incorporate other elements of the core business in the transformation. Christina Friborg says:

“Producing premium grade steel with zero CO2 emissions will be a huge leap towards achieving our sustainability goals. Fossil-free steel will become standard in the very near future; it will also still be recyclable and contribute to the circular economy.”

“SSABs sustainability ambitions also extend to the fuel and energy across our entire operations as well as internal transport, which we are working towards making fossil free. Sustainability is not just a buzz word; it is the foundation for a successful business future.”

Further reading on fossil-free steel

SSAB employees

SSAB aims to hit the market with the world’s first fossil-free steel in 2026

Decarbonizing the steelmaking process is non-negotiable if the industry wants to successfully transition from being one of the highest CO2 emitters to a sustainable, fossil-free actor in the global value chain. Although SSAB is already one of the world’s most CO2-efficient steel companies, their new pioneering approach to steel production is leading the way to providing quality steel with zero CO2 emissions.

steel plates

Five reasons to choose fossil-free steel

Why choose fossil-free steel for your business when the cost price is higher than traditional steel and the bottom line might be impacted? Adding economic and environmental value to your business by investing in steel that has created zero carbon emissions during its production is just one factor; your business investment today is a commitment to improving tomorrow’s environment, for everyone.