Options to supply the UK steel demand and meet the CO2 targets

Andre Cabrera Serrenho, Zenaida Sobral-Mourao, Jonathan Norman, Jonathan Cullen, Julian Allwood

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Current climate policies impose a reduction on the UK territorial greenhouse gas
emissions of 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. Meeting this target will imply significant efforts for the UK industries, mainly for the steel industry, since it alone accounts for 16% of UK industrial territorial emissions. In spite of climate targets being set in terms of territorial emissions, a focus on emissions released elsewhere to deliver the goods purchased in the UK provides an attractive strategy in that it captures imported emissions. This is particularly relevant for steel, which is subject to intense trade flows. In this work we assess the available options for both the UK and rest of world steel industries to supply future demand for steel in the UK, in meeting the current climate targets.

Mapping the steel flows in the UK and in the rest of the world that are required
to supply the UK demand for end-use products reveals the global nature of the
steel industry. In 2007 only 17% of steel added to in-use stock in the UK was
produced by the UK steel industry, and 78% of the UK steel production was
exported across different stages of the supply chain. Around two thirds of end-of-life scrap collected in the UK is exported, whilst the remaining third is used by the UK steel industry. A historical analysis of these flows shows that although
the UK’s steel demand shows year-on-year fluctuation it has remained relatively
constant, at around 15 Mt per year over the last 40 years. Furthermore, the
UK demand for steel in manufactured goods is increasingly supplied by steel
industries based in other countries.

The options presented in this work are organised in a set of scenarios, which
include three dimensions: (i) a set of four energy pathways developed by the
UK Government Carbon Plan for the structure of the UK energy sector and
the energy uses across the different industrial sectors; (ii) a set of technological
options for the UK and rest of world steel industries, (iii) and different degrees
of adoption of material efficiency strategies. Options resulting from combinations of these scenarios are assessed regarding their potential to deliver the greatest emissions savings worldwide, whilst supplying UK steel demand. The consequences of these options are discussed, taking into account how the current structure of steel flows could evolve and the availability of end-of-life scrap in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
EventThe ISIE (International Society for Industrial Ecology) Conference 2015 – Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology - UK, Guildford , UK United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jul 201510 Jul 2015


ConferenceThe ISIE (International Society for Industrial Ecology) Conference 2015 – Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom


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