German and Irish companies to decarbonize steel industry


Germany – Salzgitter AG, Avacon and Linde launch operations for the development of industrial hydrogen on the basis of electricity produced by wind power.

Salzgitter AG, Avacon and Linde have taken a significant and exemplary step in decarbonizing the steel sector. With the commissioning of the Wind Hydrogen Salzgitter – WindH2 project, Germany’s first cross-sector project, green hydrogen will be generated from wind power at the steel plant in Salzgitter in the future.

Short term effective approach

WindH2 is the foundation of the SALCOS®-Salzgitter Low CO2 Steelmaking technology project developed by Salzgitter AG. SALCOS® points out the most effective approach, which can be realized in the short term, to reduce CO2 emissions and also to produce virtually CO2 free steel in the long term. Hydrogen extracted from renewable sources would offset the carbon required for the smelting of iron ore. The three blast furnaces that have been run to date need to be eventually replaced by a mix of direct-reduction plants and electric arc furnaces. The transformation of steel production in this way will reduce the related CO2 emissions by about 95% over the period up to 2050.

The newly built facilities were presented to the public in Salzgitter. Among others, those present included State Secretary Andreas Feicht, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (representing Peter Altmaier MdB, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy); Dr. Bernd Althusmann, Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor, Transport and Digital Affairs for Lower Saxony; Olaf Lies, Minister for the Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection for Lower Saxony; Dr. Johannes Teyssen, Chief Executive Officer of E.ON SE; Marten Bunnemann, Chief Executive Officer of Avacon AG and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heinz Jörg Fuhrmann, Chief Executive Officer of Salzgitter AG.

Hydrogen for steel manufacturing

Avacon, a member of the E.ON Group, operates seven newly installed wind turbines with a combined capacity of 30 megawatts at Salzgitter AG. Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH has built on its plant site two Siemens 1.25 megawatt PEM electrolyzer systems capable of generating about 450 m an hour of ultra-pure hydrogen. Today’s steel manufacturing is using hydrogen for annealing processes as well as for hot-dip galvanizing lines. The industrial gas manufacturer Linde is now supplying gas by truck and will aim to meet the hydrogen needs in the future. Both the services are now undergoing a test cycle.

Know-how and expertise

With “WindH2,” the partners plan to gain know-how and expertise from the on-site processing of wind and hydrogen, as well as their incorporation into the diverse workflows and processes of the integrated steelworks.

The cost of the whole project – the construction of wind turbines and hydrogen power plants, including their integration into the current supply network – amounts to about €50 million. The construction of the electrolyzer was subsidized by KfW.