DoE Announces 1st Green Steel Plant, Replacement for Coal-Based Steel Furnace

April 4, 2024

Climate advocates and community members hailed recent announcements from the Department of Energy’s (DoE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations unveiling initial award negotiations for the first U.S. hydrogen-ready iron-making facilities. Green hydrogen made from new, renewable energy resources can be used to make fossil-free iron in modern direct reduced iron (DRI) furnaces. 

“The first proposed green steel plant in the United States, supported by the DoE, is a crucial step toward revitalizing American manufacturing, fostering healthier communities and creating future-proof jobs,” says Hilary Lewis, steel director, Industrious Labs, a firm focused on scaling industrial decarbonization advocacy. “With this investment, the Biden administration has notched its first win in the global transition to green steel.”

The DoE announced a green-hydrogen DRI plant in Perry County, MS, being developed by Swedish steel producer SSAB. The DRI will send its green iron to SSAB’s existing electric arc furnace in Iowa to make green steel. Another announced hydrogen DRI project will replace the coal-based blast furnace at Cleveland-Cliffs Middletown Works in Middletown, OH. 

These new hydrogen DRI plants will help retain workers and perhaps even grow the union workforce. Research from the local nonprofit Ohio River Valley Institute (ORVI) shows that green hydrogen DRI iron making will create more jobs than fossil-fuel technology.

"As our recent report shows, investing in fossil-free steelmaking is a boon for job creation and retention, enhancing community health and improving quality of life,” says Joanne Kilgour, ORVI executive director. “But we’ll only realize the full benefits if these facilities are powered by 100% green hydrogen made with new renewable energy resources." 

“In the chicken-and-egg game of supply and demand for sustainable materials, the announcements clarify that clean steel is coming,” adds Maricela Gutierrez, senior campaign strategist at Industrious Labs. “Now we need key steel buyers like automakers to help secure these investments by signing advanced purchase agreements.”


See also: Ssab Hardox Corp.

Technologies: Materials


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