Energy consumption is an important consideration in the steel industry, not only in terms of environmental impacts, but also as a key cost factor. For that reason, voestalpine is determined to use energy as efficiently as possible. In conventional, integrated metallurgical facilities, efficiency increases are achieved through continual optimization of process gas recycling, utilizing waste heat potential, and an energy management system.
Total energy consumption of the voestalpine Group in 2017 was 45 TWh (4.2 MWh/ton of crude steel), with the crude steel producing locations Linz and Donawitz, as well as the newly constructed direct reduction plant in Texas, by far the largest consumers.
The start of full scale operations at the site in Texas and production increases at the crude steel production sites led to an overall increase in energy consumption.
The most important energy sources are coal and coke (46% resp.19.42%), followed by natural gas (26.1%). At around 5.8% of overall energy consumption, the share of electricity procured externally was comparatively small.
Total energy consumption
Specific total energy consumption
MWh/t of product
Share of energy sources 2017
voestalpine Life Cycle Assessment
Evaluating the environment impacts of products always requires an integrated approach over their life cycle. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) considers all the process and value chains of the materials used, beyond company boundaries, and includes this information in the product’s ecological assessment.
Meanwhile, voestalpine’s business partners demand LCA data and specific ecological assessments in order to undertake transparent and robust evaluations of their products in which steel plays an important role, and to communicate this information. Already much legislation and various regulations demand transparent and verifiable information on the environmental impacts in the individual life cycle phases, or are starting to require this information. In a circular economy the integrated approach is a key aspect of sustainable products.
As a means of meeting these requirements, voestalpine works directly with customers, for example, in the automotive industry, construction industry, and the infrastructure sector, to make available meaningful and reliable LCA information and ecological assessments.
Furthermore, voestalpine has published environmental product declarations (EPD) for selected products, prepared in accordance with uniform rules and independently checked, which objectively present their environmental characteristics.
By taking this comprehensive and holistic approach it is possible to demonstrate the advantages of steel as a material with respect to its almost limitless service life, to define options for optimizing production processes, and to develop product innovations.
voestalpine applies a holistic method also to determine the specific net blue water consumption; this method extends beyond the exclusive view of specific water consumption to include both direct and indirect aspects from the upstream stages of the process and value chain.
So that the potential offered by the LCA can be used in full, standardized methods for determining environmental impacts and reliable data must be used, with the data collected according to largely harmonized factors. Numerous experts in the voestalpine divisions and at corporate level are involved in coordinating data collection and evaluation, as well as introducing and applying shared standards.
By participating in international research projects and international expert committees, for example, standardization, and expert groups, etc., voestalpine can take part in and help shape the development of existing methods and new approaches to ecological product evaluations.
A major challenge faced by voestalpine as a globally active company is the multitude of laws, standards and regulations. Here significant harmonization efforts are required in terms of applications, industries, as well as countries. voestalpine actively participates in various working groups, for example, at EUROFER and worldsteel, in drawing up meaningful and objectifiable measured values and uniform guidelines.