Swiss Steel Group’s Steeltec plant located in Emmenbrücke is to use hydropower from Axpo Holding to power its steel production, marking another milestone on the company’s road to decarbonization.

The steel industry distinguishes between two production routes, the primary and secondary route, respectively, using the blast furnace and the electric arc furnace route. In a blast furnace route, mined iron ore is melted into pig iron and ultimately into steel. This process produces new steel of the highest quality grades, often with very high CO2 emissions. The secondary route with the electric arc furnace works exclusively with steel scrap and thus emits much less CO2 than the primary route and thus the main source of energy is electricity.

The Swiss Steel Group has decided to pursue the electric arc route exclusively in its steel mills. Owing to the use of scrap, decarbonized energy and a functioning cyclic economy, the Group’s emissions are around 78% below the industry average.

The ecological footprint of the Emmenbrücke plant is the lowest within Swiss Steel Group. In 2020, the steel mill only emitted 63 kg of CO2 per ton of crude steel produced in scopes 1 and 2. In switching to electricity provided by Swiss hydropower, Steeltec is using not just local energy, but also lowering its numbers further

Under the terms of the new contract, Axpo will supply the steel mill in Emmenbrücke until 2024 with electricity certifiably generated at hydropower stations belonging to Axpo’s fleet of Swiss power plants and at a contractually agreed price. 

“We are proud today to be able to offer our customers steel melted exclusively with the use of Swiss hydropower,” said Frank Koch, CEO of Swiss Steel Group AG on the occasion of the switch to green electricity. “We are thus making not only a decisive contribution to the decarbonization of our industry, but also to a greener, more sustainable society.”

Laurent Nanzer, Head of Organization Switzerland at Axpo, added: “We have seen a strongly growing demand for electricity from hydropower and other renewable energies in Switzerland similar to the trend in the rest of Europe. The awareness of production processes that have the lowest possible CO2 emissions has increased in many industries. With our long-standing expertise throughout Europe and our innovative customer solutions, also including electricity supply contracts and PPAs, we take a decisive part in facilitating the success of domestic industry’s switching to production that is more environmentally friendly and further reducing CO2 emissions.”