At the heart of Sweden’s industrial innovation lies Ovako Group’s latest venture: the world’s first hydrogen-powered plant for heating steel, setting a precedent in the journey towards zero emissions. Spearheaded by Gøran Nyström, a visionary at Ovako, this initiative is not just a nod to environmental sustainability but a crucial step in meeting the increasing demand for climate-neutral steel.
Nyström, during a meeting with Nel in Stockholm, underscored the significance of this move: “If we can lower our carbon footprint, that is much appreciated by our customers.” This reflects a keen awareness of the growing demand for environmentally responsible manufacturing processes.
The plant, situated in Hofors, a small town with a rich steelmaking history, marks a significant stride in sustainable industry practices. The inauguration of this 20 MW facility by Sweden’s Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, underscores its national significance.
Nyström elaborates on the strategic approach behind this innovation: “It is a world-first installation. So, I think that building the right team was also about building the right competencies to make the right choices. We wanted some cost-efficient operation, a dependable operation, but also flexibility in how to use the electrolysers.”
A lighthouse project
Labelled as a “lighthouse project,” Ovako’s initiative is a beacon of inspiration, demonstrating the potential for high-grade industrial heat to be generated entirely fossil-free. With the installation of eight Alkaline electrolysers, the plant not only stands as Sweden’s largest renewable hydrogen plant but also sets a precedent for reducing CO2 emissions by 50 percent from current levels.
Marcus Hedblom, the President and CEO of Ovako Group, during the facility’s inauguration, expressed his vision for the industry’s future: “There is an increasing demand for climate-neutral steel, in which we already hold a leading position, and there is a significant interest in the industry for these types of new solutions. Now, we are showing the way forward for making high-grade industrial heat entirely fossil-free, not just for steel.”
Nyström shares this optimistic outlook, hoping that the Hofors facility will inspire a broader industrial transformation. He states, “We think of this as a lighthouse project that can be applied by others, not just the steel industry, but also in other industries. We’re not looking to protect the technology; we’re looking to share technology. Hopefully, this can be a solution that can be applied to many more places.”
This collaborative effort, involving partners like Volvo, Hitachi Energy, and H2 Green Steel, reflects a broader commitment to sustainable industrial development. The project has garnered support from both the Swedish Energy Agency and the European Union, highlighting its strategic importance in Europe’s industrial landscape.