SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall have agreed to invest SEK150 million ($15.2 million) on construction of a storage facility for hydrogen at the HYBRIT pilot plant for fossil-free steel.
The funding, which comes on top of the Swedish Energy Agency’s close to SEK50 million pledge, is an important step towards the goal of fossil-free iron and steel production, the HYBRIT joint venture partners said.
The HYBRIT initiative began in 2016. By using fossil-free electricity and hydrogen instead of coke and coal in steel production, the emissions will be water instead of carbon dioxide. The initiative has the potential to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by 10%, according to company estimates.
The plan is to build the new hydrogen gas storage facility 25-35 m below the ground surface on LKAB’s land in Svartöberget, Sweden, close to the pilot plant currently under construction on SSAB’s site in Luleå. Construction of the 100 cu.m storage facility is expected to start in 2021 and it will operate from 2022-2024. It is expected to be a pressurised hydrogen gas storage facility in a bedrock cavern with a steel lining as a sealing layer.
The implementation study for the HYBRIT initiative showed large-scale storage of hydrogen gas can play an important role in Sweden’s future energy system. As well as acting as a buffer to ensure an even flow to the steel production, a large-scale hydrogen gas storage facility would offer a better opportunity to balance the electricity system with a greater proportion of weather-dependent power generation, and enable a competitive production cost for the fossil-free steel, according to the project partners.
Magnus Hall, Vattenfall’s President and CEO, said: “I am very pleased that we, as partners, are step by step developing our joint fossil-free steel project, and the support from the Swedish Energy Agency is important.
“Now, with the support of the community, we are investing in the next piece of the jigsaw puzzle for a value chain in which hydrogen gas plays a decisive role in the success of the initiative and the development of competitive fossil-free electricity generation in Sweden.”
Martin Lindqvist, SSAB’s President and CEO, said the investment in a storage facility for fossil-free hydrogen gas is “an important building block in achieving our goal of a fossil-free value chain from ore to finished steel”, with Jan Moström, LKAB’s President and CEO, adding that he was pleased the project could make use of parts of the company’s former ore port facility for the experiment.
Robert Andrén, Director General of the Swedish Energy Agency, said large, complex and expensive leaps in technology need to be taken for the sake of the climate, to achieve the goal of zero net emissions.
“Large-scale storage of hydrogen gas will be an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle for a fossil-free value chain for steel manufacturing, but also in a future electricity system with an increasing proportion of weather-dependent power,” he said.
In June last year, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, the HYBRIT initiative partners, started the construction of a unique pilot plant in Luleå. Work also began recently on the reconstruction of a pellet works in Malmberget to replace fossil fuel with bio oil, with the aim of manufacturing fossil-free pellets.
The pilot plants for fossil-free steel production will be used from 2021 to 2024, and the partners are already looking into the possibility of scaling up the manufacturing by building a demonstration plant in 2025, three years earlier than previously planned, to produce fossil-free steel from iron ore for commercial use. The aim for 2035 is to sell fossil-free steel on a broad scale.