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European Steelmakers Ask for Help to Cut CO2
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Article Type: Cited
European steelmakers said Thursday they needed EU governments to help pay for euro1 billion ($1.25 billion) in climate change projects that could keep jobs in Europe as new rules penalize polluters.
The steel industry generates large amounts of carbon dioxide and may face heavy charges under a European Union cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse gases. Companies claim that 'pay-to-pollute' permits could eventually force them to relocate outside Europe.
ArcelorMittal executive Michel Wurth said this was one of the reasons why his company, the world's largest steelmaker, and rivals Corus and ThyssenKrupp were seeking "breakthrough projects" to reduce CO2 emissions.
But a pilot project to capture CO2 from a steel furnace and bury it underground would cost up to euro800 million ($1 billion) -- and the companies say they want some of this to come from governments.
They plan to build two furnaces at two ArcelorMittal sites -- in Eisenhuettenstadt, Germany and Florange, France -- to find out if it is possible to recycle some of the carbon monoxide gas released during steel-making and also to capture CO2 to pipe into a French aquifer.
They say these needs to be among several proposed multibillion euro (dollar) projects that EU nations plan to have up and running by 2015 as Europe tries to slash greenhouse gases to limit climate change.
But it is not clear that European governments are ready to pledge large amounts of cash to a technology that is still largely unproven -- and that opponents warn could be unsafe or, at the very least, unable to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.
Governments have still not agreed to fund carbon capture and storage projects out of a euro5 billion ($6.3 billion) economy stimulus package proposed by the European Commission late last year. They will likely make a decision at a March 19-20 summit between EU leaders.
Wurth said Germany and France were positive about the steel makers' plans and other nations were also supportive -- but he could not give details about how much money they might give and how much the companies would put forward, saying talks were still at an early stage.
The steel industry is also looking to put some euro200 million ($251 million) into other projects to reduce energy use in buildings and develop lighter steel for cars -- using less energy during manufacturing and when the cars finally hit the road.
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