The Actual Price of Inexperienced Metal – Anticipate it?

Guest contribution by Willis Eschenbach

There is great excitement in the climatic sphere about the amount of “coking coal” used in steelmaking. A number of supposedly smart people are working to replace this coal with hydrogen to reduce the amount of harmful CO2 that is produced in steel making. There is a very timely post on the subject here on WUWT that describes a “green steel” method developed in Sweden.

So I thought I’d look at the steel numbers for the European Union. If you know me, you will know that I like to count the numbers myself.

From “Hydrogen in Steel Production” I find:

The steel industry accounts for 4% of all CO2 emissions in Europe.

Today Europe emits around 2.5 billion tons of CO2 per year. The four percent of emissions from steel production are ~ 100 million tons per year. 8.43 billion tons of CO2 correspond to one ppmv of atmospheric CO2. So 100 million tons of CO2 avoided is a saving of about 0.013 ppmv CO2 per year … except that about 45% of CO2 emissions are locked up instantly, so you only save about 0.007 ppmv per year … shut up, my beating heart.

Then we have this estimate of the annual increase in electricity needed to convert EU steelmaking to hydrogen:

The total energy requirement for the climate-neutral conversion of the blast furnace route is around 120 terawatt hours (TWh) per year, for example.

To provide this additional electricity, 14 new 1 GW nuclear power plants and a few more are needed for peak production plus downtime. So call it 18 new atomic bombs.

In addition, of course, there are the electricity costs themselves. At, say, US $ 0.06 per kilowatt hour, that’s another US $ 4.8 billion per year.

Will “green steel” be cost effective and competitive in the market? Do not make me laugh.

In addition, imported steel that is not produced in a climate-neutral way should be taxed so that prices remain comparable.

If the steel industry has to face this task, the prices of its end products have to be increased enormously, which makes it internationally uncompetitive. The migration of an entire branch of industry, or at least upstream production, will be the result.


The prices for European steel should be “increased enormously”? … Marvelous. Steel is used in millions of products …

What about the cost of capital?

We calculate that it will cost around 100 billion euros [US$117 billion] to make the production of crude steel climate-neutral.


Plus the cost of the 18 new atomic bombs, about $ 8 billion per GW = another $ 144 billion. And then there is the cost of the additional electricity itself, which by 2050 will be 4.8 billion US dollars a year times 28 years = 134 billion US dollars.

All in all, the move will cost nearly $ 400 billion by 2050.

If they did this tomorrow, European steelmakers would have reduced atmospheric CO2 by ~ 0.2 ppmv by 2050. And IF (big if) the IPCC is right, the world would be ~ 0.002 ° C cooler by 2050 …

Now the temperatures drop with the altitude by about one degree Celsius per 100 meters of altitude. So when you stand, a 0.002 ° C drop in temperature is less than the underlying altitude-related temperature difference that constantly exists between your toes and your knees …

And please, You’re welcome Do not say “If the EU does this, the other countries will follow”. Outside of the EU, the US and some other stupid sheep, most countries are nowhere near as stupid. To cool the atmosphere, it will cost around $ 200 trillion per ° C of cooling by 2050. By comparison, global gross domestic product (GDP) is about $ 85 trillion a year, so it would cost far more than double the world’s annual GDP to cool the planet 1 ° C at this rate.

At $ 200,000,000,000,000 per degree of cooling, it has to be by far the most expensive air conditioner in the world … and the people in the EU think it’s a brilliant plan.

And if Europe switches to “green steel”, what will they get for their $ 400 billion other than an immeasurably tiny cooling by 2050?

Oh, right – “enormously expensive” steel. Damn deal …

Mathematics. Don’t leave home without it.


AS ALWAYS: I can and am generally happy to defend my own words. But I cannot defend your interpretation of my words. So please if you comment quote the exact words you are talking about.

PS: how big is a trillion? Almost unimaginably large. For example, a million seconds is 11.6 days … and a trillion seconds is 31,700 years.


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