Climate neutral operations


Climate and energy

Our objective is to become a climate neutral operation before 2045. This is a huge challenge, but it is necessary. To minimize our climate footprint, we need to utilize both established and newly developed methods. We also need to invest in research and innovation to make improvements beyond what is possible today. 

At present we focus on improving energy efficiency, transitioning to use renewable energy in production and transport, replacing fossil process coals and rethinking our materials supply.

Climate roadmap

A strategic decision to become climate neutral was approved by Group management in 2019. Since then, we have launched our Climate roadmap that shows the actions, priorities and investments that are needed to transform, based on our high ambition to become net-zero in our value chain in 2037. This includes rethinking our material and energy supply, our production processes, research and development plans and business models.

The Climate roadmap consists of concrete action plans that are anchored at local level, consolidated at Group level and integrated in the business planning processes. The plan is updated annually, and actions are frequently followed up to identify obstacles at an early stage and make sure that we have progress.

The integration of the Climate Roadmap into business plans and strategic decision-making is a key success factor to achieve climate adaption, together with co-operation with suppliers, customers and other business partners in our value chain.

The main building blocks to become fossil free in our own operations are:

  • Using fossil free electricity
  • Move away from fossil fuels to renewable fuels and/or electrification
  • Replace fossil metallurgical coke and anthracite with biochar

To achieve net-zero emissions in the value chain we need to also reduce the indirect emissions connected to the purchased raw materials and transportation. To be able to do that, we need to ensure access to low carbon raw materials and transportation through our supply chain. We also need to co-operate with customers to utilise the benefits of the lowered carbon footprint of our own products in their applications.

We are dependent on external factors such as access to fossil free energy, biofuels and biochar, and technologies to permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere (Carbon Capture and Storage).

We also need intergovernmental incentives and agreements, as well as local and regional regulation that support the climate adaption of the industry, to be able to transform in such a large scale, while at the same time staying competitive.

The Climate roadmap gives a good picture of the road ahead of us on a concrete and detailed level, based on the knowledge we have today. However, circumstances change rapidly, and new opportunities will be available as they are developed. The annual update of the plan will make sure that new knowledge is added and that new opportunities are included in the plan continuously.

The progress of the Climate Roadmap is tracked on a quarterly basis through follow-up on key activities and KPIs.

New technique to produce renewable energy gas

There are currently few realistic alternatives to replace fossil fuels (naturals gas) for Höganäs, due to the need for precise process control, high temperature and purity. To initiate a change we started the Probiostål project and a collaboration with Cortus Energy who have developed the Woodroll® process, a technique for gasification and restructuring of biomass to renewable energy gas (renewable synthesis gas).

After a number of studies, a pilot plant was built at our site in Höganäs, Sweden, to perform tests on an industrial scale. If the technology is proven for use on an industrial scale, the installed unit alone will enable us to reduce our fossil CO2 emissions by about 10,000 tonnes per year.

Renewable raw materials

Fossil process coal used in our production is a challenge where we are taking the lead to become more renewable. The sponge iron plant is the only operation within the Group where we use fossil coke and anthracite to reduce iron ore into metallic iron. Today, the reduction process accounts for almost 70 per cent of the Höganäs Group’s direct CO2 emissions.

As part of our development programme for renewable alternatives we have identified and tested biochar as a replacement for some of the fossil coal. The ongoing development is promising and can, if successful, result in a reduction of up to 10 per cent of the Höganäs Group’s total direct emissions, or the equivalent of 28,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The pilot plant for renewable energy gas can also be used to produce bio-coke. This will enable us to evaluate biogenic process carbon from various renewable raw materials with the long-term objective to replace as much fossil carbon in the sponge iron process as possible.

Energy management

Höganäs’ energy use consists of fuel consumption and purchased energy. Some of the energy used is converted into residual heat which we can deliver to external parties. The main part goes to district heating and some to the municipal water treatment plant.

Our present energy efficiency initiative, the ‘Energy Challenge’, has the goal of a 10 per cent reduction in energy use per produced ton of metal powder between 2010 and 2020, which is a challenging goal. An additional target for securing efficient energy handling is that our most energy intensive operational units with melting operations should be certified as ISO 50001 energy management by the end of 2021. Our major Swedish production sites are already certified and other production sites are on their way towards compliance.

Research to replace fossil coal

Höganäs is working in several parallel tracks in order to phase out fossil coal and reduce its climate impact. To replace the biggest element, fossil coal, more basic research is needed into bio-coal and its properties. This is where Luleå University of Technology offers its help in a joint research project, supported by the Swedish Energy Agency.

“The project will develop knowledge of bio-coal in order to replace as much fossil coal as possible in our manufacturing processes and at other companies in the industry,” says Ryan Robinson, engineer at Höganäs.

The research project is structured in three stages, which essentially means that the research team will draw up a specification for bio-coal for the two main processes at Höganäs for metal powder: the sponge iron process and the atomization process. They will then investigate the various process parameters for the production of bio-coal that meet the specifications. The third and final stage is to create a data model so that they can scale up the application more specifically in the sponge iron process. In parallel with this, Höganäs is carrying out practical trials to see how the material works on a larger scale.

Kentaro Umeki, Associate Professor at Luleå University, is project manager and is being assisted by two senior researchers and three doctoral students.

“We want to contribute to the development of a more sustainable society through our research. Höganäs is a serious, active partner that really wants to convert its production system, from its current use of large volumes of fossil coal to becoming fossil-free. If these climate goals are to be achieved, all companies in the steel industry must do the same. The environmental impact will be one of the most important criteria when consumers choose products, and it is extremely important for us to be able to choose products that are produced using green steel,” says Kentaro Umeki.

Our work to replace fossil coal and fossil fuels with renewable alternatives

Case stories

“The project will develop knowledge of bio-coal in order to replace as much fossil coal as possible”

Ryan Robinson, engineer at Höganäs.