How Japanese Steel Is Turning Green

May 1, 2024|Steel / Green Transformation

Part II : Reducing the Problem to Its Core

If Japan’s fully behind a hydrogen economy, then it’s even more fully behind a net-zero shift in steelmaking. For all the headlines around the ‘hydrogen economy’, the steel sector is due to get almost 50% more government green R&D funding (¥427 billion) over the course of the next ten years.

Of course, hydrogen will play a vital role in the transformation of steelmaking from the centuries-old process based on coking coal. But it’s not the only component in what is widely touted as the age of ‘green steel’. A number of innovations are in the works in Japan’s steel factories, both in heat control, emissions absorption, and power sources.

Nearly all the new technologies proposed and tested are still in the pilot and demonstration stage, but the development is further advanced than most realize. One of the biggest factors that will influence the next steps in ‘green steelmaking’ is the persistent conundrum of price. After all, technological breakthroughs will mean nothing if they can’t find willing clients and supportive governments.

In this second part of the “Green Steel in Japan” series, we look at how the steel sector and the government are wrestling with obvious disparities between what they ‘need’ the price of clean steel technologies to look like and what they are in practice. The next few years require radical mind shifts, either on the side of producers or buyers, or both.

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