Plant-by-plant decarbonization strategies for the global steel industry

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Abstract

The critical role of the iron and steel industry in decarbonizing global energy systems calls for refined strategies of climate mitigation. Here, based on a newly developed database of individual iron and steel facilities worldwide, we explore the distinct differences in age-to-capacity ratio and emissions intensity of primary steelmaking plants. We customize regional cost-effective decarbonization strategies by targeting a certain proportion of plants. We find that the more effective indicator for targeted decarbonization in developing regions is emissions intensity, while for developed countries it is age-to-capacity ratio. Whichever indicator we use to target plants, the strategy of transformation towards secondary steelmaking is generally more cost-effective than efficiency improvement in most cases, although obvious regional priorities exist. Our results emphasize the region-specific priorities of mitigation indicators and strategies in targeting plants, which help with designing short-term, cost-effective strategies for reducing steel-related CO2 emissions.

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Xu, R., Tong, D., Davis, S. J., Qin, X., Cheng, J., Shi, Q., … Zhang, Q. (2023). Plant-by-plant decarbonization strategies for the global steel industry. Nature Climate Change, 13(10), 1067–1074. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-023-01808-z

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