On Tuesday 5 September, Swedish steelmaker Ovako, a leading European manufacturer of steel and one of the largest steel recyclers in Scandinavia, inaugurated the world's first fossil-free hydrogen plant for heating steel before rolling.
Ovako’s new facility in Hofors, Sweden, marks the beginning of a new chapter in Swedish steel history, the company claims, with significant potential for global emissions reduction.
The importance of Ovako’s inauguration of fossil-free hydrogen facility was underlined by the presence in Hofors of the Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kirstersson.
"Sweden is now the hub of the fossil-free revolution in steel making. What Ovako is accomplishing here today is a crucial step – this is green transition in action, not just words.”Ulf Kristersson, Prime Minister of Sweden
"Sweden is now the hub of the fossil-free revolution in steel making. What Ovako is accomplishing here today is a crucial step – this is green transition in action, not just words", Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson stated during his opening speech on Tuesday.
Historically, heating steel has required substantial amounts of fossil fuels. Ovako's new hydrogen plant is the world's first facility to produce fossil-free hydrogen for heating steel prior to rolling, nearly eliminating emissions at this stage of production. The fossil-free hydrogen will be used to heat steel at adjacent rolling mills, but also for refueling fuel cell-powered trucks. The excess heat is converted into district heating.
"Today is a proud moment for me and everyone at Ovako. Here, we are showcasing the path to achieving fossil-free industrial high-temperature heat. It's fantastic to see visitors from all over the world here in Hofors. We look forward to sharing our experiences and assisting other stakeholders in reducing their emissions," said Marcus Hedblom, President, and CEO of the Ovako Group during the inauguration.
"Today is a proud moment for me and everyone at Ovako. Here, we are showcasing the path to achieving fossil-free industrial high-temperature heat. It's fantastic to see visitors from all over the world here in Hofors.”Marcus Hedblom, president and CEO, Ovako Group
Also present at the event were Japan's Ambassador Masaki Noke and key individuals from Ovako's partners.
"Thanks to partners such as the Volvo Group, Hitachi Energy, H2 Green Steel, and Nel Hydrogen, the hydrogen plant in Hofors will make a difference from day one," Hedblom added.
Tobias Hansson, managing director of Hitachi Energy in Sweden, commented, "We at Hitachi Energy are immensely proud to have contributed to this significant milestone towards a more sustainable steel industry by delivering a modular eHouse solution for electrifying the electrolyzers."
Maria Persson Gulda, chief technology officer at H2 Green Steel, added, "Technical expertise, market knowledge, and extensive hydrogen production experience are already strong competitive advantages in the growing hydrogen economy, which will be crucial in rapidly decarbonizing challenging industries. This collaboration is an excellent example of both Sweden leading the way and the importance of working together, sometimes in unexpected partnerships."
Facts worth knowing about Ovako’s Hofors facility
• Ovako's hydrogen plant is the world's first facility for producing fossil-free hydrogen to heat steel before rolling. This reduces emissions from this production step to nearly zero, with only water as a byproduct.
• The plant in Hofors is also Sweden's largest electrolysis plant. It features an electrolyzer that passes electricity through water to split it into hydrogen and oxygen gases, which can then be used as fuel.
• The 20 MW plant will generate 3,880 cubic metres of fossil-free hydrogen per hour, as well as producing oxygen.
• In addition to steel heating, the fossil-free hydrogen will be used for fueling fuel cell-powered trucks. The technology solution is flexible and can contribute to stronger grid stability, enabling it to handle higher levels of renewable energy sources. Excess heat can also be utilized in district heating networks.
• The investment of around 180 million SEK is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency through “Industrial Leap”.
• The plan is to use local hydrogen production in all Ovako units where steel is rolled by 2030, provided there is good access to fossil-free electricity to power the electrolysis process.
• The development of the fossil-free hydrogen plant is carried out with support from the Swedish Energy Agency and the European Union.