Inauguration date set for Sweden’s largest electrolyzer for fossil-free hydrogen production

Swedish steel production is taking a significant step towards sustainability with the date now set for the inauguration of the world’s first plant to produce fossil-free hydrogen for heating steel before rolling.

In Sep 2023, Ovako, the leading European manufacturer of steel and one of the largest steel recyclers in the Nordic countries, will inaugurate the hydrogen plant at its Hofors mill. It will also be Sweden’s largest electrolysis facility.

Heating processes in the steel industry have historically relied heavily on fossil fuels, this is a barrier to Ovako’s ambitious goal of achieving zero emissions in its operations. The Nordic region has unique resources in the form of fossil-free energy sources, and we have embraced this in our innovative hydrogen project. Its launch in September will mark a new chapter in Sweden’s history of steelmaking. With our new hydrogen plant in Hofors, we will become the first in the world to heat steel with fossil-free hydrogen prior to rolling. This groundbreaking initiative holds immense potential for substantial reductions in global emissions, and the level of interest we have received from international partners is remarkable, says Marcus Hedblom.

The electrolyzer plant is currently being installed at Ovako’s facility in Hofors, and the work is expected to be completed in early autumn 2023. The 20-megawatt (MW) plant will generate 3,880 cubic meters of fossil-free hydrogen per hour. In addition to heating steel, fossil-free hydrogen can be used to fuel trucks powered by fuel cells. Furthermore, the excess heat generated can be used for district heating in nearby communities.

Through strategic collaborations with partners like the Volvo Group, Hitachi Energy, H2 Green Steel, and Nel Hydrogen, Ovako is committed to ensuring that the impact of this facility will make a difference from day one. The initiative is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency, where the common goal is to establish cross-industry use of fossil-free hydrogen, increase knowledge about the possibilities of the fuel, and achieve cost-effective production.

I would like to emphasize the importance of collaborative efforts that transcend industry boundaries and prioritize solutions yielding substantial and immediate climate benefits. Since 2015, we have reduced our CO2 emissions by 57 percent, and now we will be the first steel company to demonstrate that it is possible to heat steel with fossil-free hydrogen prior to rolling. Together with our other initiatives, this moves us even closer to zero emissions in our steel production, says Marcus Hedblom.

The plan is to use local hydrogen production in all of Ovako’s rolling mills by 2030, provided there is a good supply of fossil-free electricity.

The development of the fossil-free hydrogen plant is carried out with support from the Swedish Energy Agency and the European Union

Haseeb Ullah

Haseeb covers the global energy market for both conventional and modern energy resources. His expertise is on the global energy supply chain from generation to distribution and end-users. He has a Master degree in Engineering Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.
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