A public tender process for Liberty Steel Ostrava’s new environmentally-friendly hybrid furnaces launched yesterday (10 November 2020).

According to Liberty Steel Group (LSG) – part of the GFG Alliance – the announcement marks a major step in the Czech Republic-based steelmaker’s journey towards low carbon technologies in line with LSG’s big plan to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Modern hybrid technology has a significantly lower environmental footprint than more conventional equipment and will reduce particulate emissions by 60% by 2023 thanks to a new dedusting plant. Once the 400kV electricity line is installed by 2025, carbon emissions will be reduced by 50% as the furnaces will be able to use 70% scrap. Full carbon neutrality will be achieved once the plant has transitioned to using 100% scrap or captures and recycles the CO2 from its primary units while offsetting residual carbon produced through GFG’s peat restoration project at JAHAMA Highland Estates in Scotland.

Currently the Ostrava plant operates four tandem furnaces, which will be replaced by the hybrid units in 2023. Liberty believes that the new technology will allow the business to use higher volumes of abundant local steel scrap, reduce its reliance on imported coal and iron ore and significantly lower CO2 emissions. It will also mean greater flexibility to respond to changing market situations, by enabling it to switch between or blend coal-based blast furnace and scrap-based EAF-produced steel.

“This is an important step forward for the Liberty Ostrava transformation and for Liberty Steel Group’s ambitions to be carbon neutral by 2030,” said Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of LSG. “These new furnaces will reduce the carbon emissions from the plant by half once combined with the new high voltage power line, which we expect to be installed by 2025, which means we will be well on the way to produce carbon neutral green steel at Liberty Ostrava.”

Liberty Ostrava’s chief operating officer, Vaclav Habura, said that when he joined the Ostrava works in 1985 he was told that the plant’s existing tandem furnaces should be changed as soon as possible because they were not competitive. “Liberty has managed to do more to achieve this ambition within the last year, than the business has done in its previous 35,” he said.

LSG plans an investment of EUR750 million at Ostrava over the next 10 years.