CSE Unveils Roadmap To Bring Down Carbon Emissions From India’s Iron And Steel Industry

CSE Unveils Roadmap To Bring Down Carbon Emissions From India’s Iron And Steel Industry

Decarbonizing India: Iron and Steel Sector, CSE’s new assessment report, shows how it is possible for this industry to grow and prosper – and emit less at the same time

New Delhi, Oct 22 (TNA) In a business-as-usual scenario, GHG emissions from the sector are estimated to grow 2.5 times (up to 659 million tonne or MT) by 2030 compared to 2020-21 (271 MT). CSE’s recommendations can reduce these emissions by 64 to 79 per cent (419 to 519 MT) by 2030, even after tripling the production.

“Our new analysis shows it is possible to bring down carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from our iron and steel sector drastically by 2030, while tripling India’s output of steel. We can emit even less than what we do today – but all this will need planning, technology and funds,” says Sunita Narain, director general, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), referring to CSE’s recent assessment report on the emissions footprints of India’s iron and steel sector and how it can be ‘decarbonised’.

The iron and steel sector is a hard-to-abate sector in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; at the same time, it is a critical contributor to the economic development of the country. Globally, the sector accounts for some 7 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions; in India, the sector’s share is 5 per cent (as per the latest inventory available for 2016).

The new CSE report – Decarbonizing India: Iron and Steel Sector – gives a detailed insight into GHG emissions from the sector and its future emission scenarios for 2030. The analysis assumes significance with the 27th UN Climate Conference of Parties scheduled to begin in Egypt in November.

Says Narain: “Countries like India need to grow and develop, and this at a time when the world is running out of carbon budget to stay below the guardrail of 1.5°C temperature rise. Hence, this growth has to be low in carbon. It must be as green as it can be. How do we ensure the double benefits of reduced emissions and growth? Our new report shows us the way.”

In the iron and steel sector, the manufacturing process determines the amount of CO2 an industrial unit will produce. Coal is key to the production of iron in a blast furnace, and well as for making steel through a basic oxygen furnace (BF-BOF). “This makes the sector hard to decarbonise -- roughly half of India’s iron and steel is produced through this route,” says the CSE research.

The other way to manufacture iron is the direct reduced iron (DRI) or sponge iron method. In this, iron is extracted using reducing agents like coal or gas, and steel is produced thereafter through an electric-arc or induction furnace. Says Parth Kumar, programme manager, Industrial Pollution Unit, CSE: “This production process is easier to decarbonise as coal can be replaced by natural gas; also, steel scrap can replace iron ore completely.”

In India, iron and steel manufactured using DRI is far more polluting because it is coal-based. Since sponge iron plants operate largely in the small and medium sectors, there is no impetus to improve their emissions profile. Says Narain: “This is where the opportunity lies; the government should work on a package that involves a cleaner fuel like gas and improves the circularity of the recycled steel business by promoting optimum usage of steel scrap as a raw material.”

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