In the first six months of the current business year, attention was mainly centered on topics that are already familiar from earlier reporting and that continue to be of decisive importance to the future for the European steel industry in the area of the environment: CO2 emissions trading, the Steel Roadmap, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and the revision to the IED (Industrial Emissions Directive).
Now that the EU Commission has finished evaluating all national allocation plans of the member states with regard to CO2 emissions trading, it is becoming obvious that in general, the cost-free allocations as envisioned under the Emissions Trading Guideline are being substantially exceeded, a circumstance that consequently entails the overall diminution of the allocation volume by an across-the-board “correction factor.” This results in a significantly higher load on the “productive industry.” For voestalpine, this means an approximately 50% increase in procurement needs, to a total of nearly 30 million certificates in the period from 2013 to 2020.
As presented by EUROFER, the European steel association, the “Low Carbon Steel Roadmap”—which demonstrates the significant role played by steel, both in regard to climate protection and its potential to lower CO2 emissions—has so far failed to generate the political response hoped for. The European steel association nonetheless continues to endeavor to insert this roadmap into the discussion of “2030 goals.” EUROFER has therefore presented this “Low Carbon Steel Roadmap” in September 2013 to the General Directorate on Climate of the EU Commission for further discussion. It is true that the challenges with regard to equal opportunities in international competition were addressed; however, the meeting was concluded without any concrete results.
In the knowledge that, given these circumstances, only new technological solutions will facilitate, at least to some extent, the low carbon goal sought for in Europe, voestalpine is relying both on the use of the best available technologies and on active research efforts in environmental technologies in order to develop a lower CO2-output steel production process as well as a process for energy recovery. Europe certainly needs a future-oriented and innovation-driven climate policy, but on the basis of both technological and economically achievable goals. To attain consensus on this fundamental position, it will be necessary to enter into further negotiations at the European level.
In the first half of the current business year, a series of environmental activities were launched once again on a Group-wide basis. The focus was placed on the areas of air purification, water management, energy efficiency, and noise reduction as well as waste and recycling management. With regard to air purification, the largest voestalpine site in Linz replaced its existing dust extraction and filtration system with a new, more efficient system in order to achieve dust mitigation in the scrap yard/flame cutting system area. Also in Linz, in the area around both smaller blast furnaces, at the points on the transport conveyors where coke is transferred, application of a wetting agent has recently been begun in order to further minimize diffuse dust emissions.
At Villares Metals S.A. (Brazil), a new filter system to reduce dust emissions from the electro-slag remelting process was installed in order to optimize air purity. Buderus Edelstahl GmbH (Germany) recently replaced an old shot blasting system with a more efficient aggregate and additionally installed a dry dust extraction system. Furthermore, at the scale hoisting equipment in the open-die forging area, a dust suction system was installed for the transfer points. voestalpine Edelstahl GmbH (Austria) implemented the most diverse array of measures to increase energy efficiency, including the installation of additional measurement gauges to monitor energy. To prevent and to reduce noise, new sound insulation and noise tunnels, among other things, were realized by the Special Steel Division at the Kapfenberg, Villares, and Wetzlar sites.
In the environmental management systems, the new Steel Service Center in Romania successfully obtained its initial certification in accordance with ISO 14001. In recognition of its unique environmental efforts, voestalpine Tubulars GmbH & Co. KG was awarded the EMAS Environmental Award for its Environmental Statement 2012 from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management.