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

Our Climate Roadmap was approved by Group management and launched in 2019. It is based on our objective to become net climate neutral before 2045 and aims at decoupling earnings from climate impact emissions. The scope is both our direct and indirect emissions and includes our material and energy supply, our production processes, research and development plans and business models.

The Roadmap will be our guide to the strategy and business planning processes, where our three main strategic areas for reducing climate impact will be:

  1. Reducing emissions by increasing energy efficiency
  2. Using more recycled materials to decrease upstream emissions
  3. Increasing the use of renewable energy and fuels

A key success factor for reaching our long-term goal is to fully integrate climate related targets in our internal business plan process. The integration of the Climate Roadmap into our ways of working in the product areas and in long term R&D, as well as in capital investment plans, is crucial to creating value. Governance and consistency are necessary to empower the organization to move forward and take decisions.

We are acutely aware that our success is highly dependent on external factors such as:

  • Co-operation with suppliers, customers and other business partners in our value chain.
  • New or improved technical solutions in areas ranging from process technology, schemes for reclaiming material and material separation, supply of energy from renewable sources at commercially viable costs, transport ­possibilities and more.
  • Business models that support decoupling of earnings from climate impact both for us and for our customers.
  • Intergovernmental incentives and agreements as well as local and regional regulation that support service and industry sectors as well as individual companies under transformation with possibilities for an intact or improved competitive edge.

The Climate Roadmap does not supply detailed instructions for the entire journey towards climate neutrality, but it gives a point of departure, a clear direction, the required speed of progress and the tools for each part of the organization to find ways to do their part. Even though we have a challenging journey ahead, we feel confident that we are on the right track.

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.