Energy use

Energy is one of the most important raw materials for the iron and steel industry which is an energy intensive industry. Energy consumption, including the coal used in the steelmaking process, is about 20 TWh per year. This is equivalent to about 14 per cent of the energy consumption for Sweden’s industry as a whole.

Koke which is produced through coal being heated in an oxygen-free atmosphere (dry distillation). Photo: Stig-Göran Nilsson, Jernkontoret's picture collection.

The consumption of energy follows the steel output trend. This means that energy use falls during a recession when the demand for steel, and consequently its production, declines. 

The variations in consumption of coke and coke oven gas are tied to the production of ore-based steel which constitutes about two-thirds of Sweden’s total steel production. From an energy consumption viewpoint, the ore-based steel plants are wholly dominant. This is due to the fact that the coke required as a reducing agent in smelting iron ore is counted in the energy balance. 

For scrap-based steel production, on the other hand, electric power is the principal energy source.

The steel industry’s use of oil, gas and electricity has been comparatively stable since 1990. Whereas the use of gas (LPG and natural gas) has increased slightly, the use of oil has declined. Previously, natural gas could only be used by the iron and steelworks in the southern part of Sweden where a distribution network for natural gas existed. Since it became possible to transport natural gas in liquid form – so-called LNG – then this energy source has been used for heat treatment furnaces at several sites across Sweden.

Energy use in the Swedish iron and steel industry. 
Energy use in the Swedish iron and steel industry

Residual energy from the processes is utilised 

Following use of the energy resources in the steel production processes, in many cases the residual heat and energy formed can be usefully employed once again. Process gases from the coking plant, blast furnace and steelworks are used for production of electricity and district heating. Heat produced in smelters and furnaces is often taken care of and fed into the district heating networks for the benefit of the neighbouring communities.  

External deliverances of waste energy from the Swedish steel industry. 
Försäljning av restenergier i form av processgaser, el och värme från svensk stålindustri 

Read more about energy: