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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Bottom-up Energy Efficiency Improvement Roadmap for China’s Iron and Steel Industry up to 2050:


Iron and steel manufacturing is energy intensive in China and in the world. China is the world largest steel producer accounting for around half of the world steel production. In this study, we use a bottom-up energy consumption model to analyze four steel-production and energy-efficiency scenarios and evaluate the potential for energy savings from energy-efficient technologies in China’s iron and steel industry between 2010 and 2050. The results show that China’s steel production will rise and peak in the year 2020 at 860 million tons (Mt) per year for the base-case scenario and 680 Mt for the advanced energy-efficiency scenario. From 2020 on, production will gradually decrease to about 510 Mt and 400 Mt in 2050, for the base-case and advanced scenarios, respectively. Energy intensity will decrease from 21.2 gigajoules per ton (G/t) in 2010 to 12.2 GJ/t and 9.9 GJ/t in 2050 for the base-case and advanced scenarios, respectively. In the near term, decreases in iron and steel industry energy intensity will come from adoption of energy-efficient technologies. In the long term, a shift in the production structure of China’s iron and steel industry, reducing the share of blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace production and increasing the share of electric-arc furnace production while reducing the use of pig iron as a feedstock to electric-arc furnaces will continue to reduce the sector’s energy consumption. We discuss barriers to achieving these energy-efficiency gains and make policy recommendations to support improved energy efficiency and a shift in the nature of iron and steel production in China.

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