Energy Use and Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Steel Sector in Key Developing Countries

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Iron and steel production consumes enormous quantities of energy, especially in developing countries where outdated, inefficient technologies are still used to produce iron and steel. Carbon dioxide emissions from steel production, which range between 5 and 15% of total country emissions in key developing countries (Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa), will continue to grow as these countries develop and as demand for steel products such as materials, automobiles, and appliances increases. In this report, we describe the key steel processes, discuss typical energy-intensity values for these processes, review historical trends in iron and steel production by process in five key developing countries, describe the steel industry in each of the five key developing countries, present international comparisons of energy use and carbon dioxide emissions among these countries, and provide our assessment of the technical potential to reduce these emissions based on best-practice benchmarking. Using a best practice benchmark, we find that significant savings, in the range of 33% to 49% of total primary energy used to produce steel, are technically possible in these countries. Similarly, we find that the technical potential for reducing intensities of carbon dioxide emissions ranges between 26% and 49% of total carbon dioxide emissions from steel production in these countries.

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