SSI Steel Agree To Fight Climate Change – Then Shut Down
By Paul Homewood
Is this some sort of sick joke? I found it on DECC’s blog from last September:
It might surprise you to hear the operator of the second largest blast furnace in Europe and one of the UK’s top five highest emitters, is pushing for more action on climate change. But that’s exactly what SSI Steel and other energy-intensive companies in Teesside were doing in Westminster in July at the launch of our blueprint for a clean industrial future in the UK.
Alongside BOC, Lotte Chemical UK, GrowHow and others we make up Teesside Collective, a cluster of industries determined to establish Europe’s first Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) equipped industrial zone. Funded by DECC and advised by the best experts in CCS, we’ve now finished the business case, initial engineering studies and economic analysis for a shared pipeline network to capture, transport and permanently store emissions under the North Sea.
And it’s looking promising. The initial phase, which could be up and running by 2024, would capture 2.8 million tonnes of carbon per year – that’s a quarter of Teesside’s emissions and almost 60% of the Committee on Climate Change’s suggested deployment of industrial CCS by 2030. It would support 1,200 jobs in construction and help retain 5,900 jobs in our firms and supply chains.
Other Teesside industries would later be able to plug in, as would new plants attracted to the area by the infrastructure. An expanded network could capture and store up to 15 million tonnes of carbon per year by 2035 – more than all of Teesside’s current emissions and almost half of the Committee on Climate Change’s suggested deployment of industrial CCS by 2050. It would also create an additional 2,600 jobs in Tees Valley, £2bn in gross value added and £1.2bn in new exports.
As DECC’s Minister Lord Bourne said at our launch, “The market for chemical, plastic and steel is changing. Consumers are increasingly demanding low carbon products. The work Teesside Collective is doing is an important step in making the economic case…bottom line is these projects must be made commercially viable. ”.
This is a something that’s really driving Teesside Collective. My colleagues at Lotte Chemical have been told by Britvic Plc, for whom they provide the polyester resin for billions of drinks bottles each year that “Suppliers who account for their emissions in a credible way will present a fundamentally more attractive proposition in relation to their rivals”. Cleaner industry definitely makes better business sense.
The environmental agenda is no longer about the greens versus industry as it was in the past. Our launch underlined the broad coalition of support for our project, which has been welcomed in equal measure by WWF, the Committee on Climate Change, the CBI, EEF and many others.
Our industries face intense international competition day in day out and the nature of our processes are such that significant CO2 reduction simply cannot be achieved without CCS regardless of carbon price. But we also have our sights set on a longer term prize. The direction of travel on carbon reduction here in the UK and, increasingly, in rival economies is irreversible. Even before we know the outcome of December’s UN talks, it’s clear to Teesside Collective that the smartest firms are those who take steps first to reduce their exposure to carbon penalties. And grab valuable clean industry market share in the process.
Incredibly, SSI made their closure announcement on 28th September, just 19 days after DECC’s gleeful blog.
It must be obvious, even to the cretins in DECC, that SSI never had the slightest interest in carbon storage, and one suspects that a lot of arm twisting went on in the background to get them to sign up.
Although the taxpayer has funded the initial studies, it would have been SSI and the other companies which would have had to pay to modify their plant to in order to pump CO2 away. That fact would hardly have helped the financial case to keep the Teeside steel plant open.
Lord Bourne is clearly hopelessly out of his depth. Does he really think customers are demanding low carbon products? They will carry on buying where goods are the cheapest. That is why SSI have lost market share to cheap Chinese steel – the fact that China’s energy is far more CO2 intensive does not matter two hoots to firms buying their steel, or to the consumers who buy the end products.
As for his hopes of retaining 5900 jobs on Teeside, and creating even more in the long run, there is more chance of Southend United winning the FA Cup!
Meanwhile, I am sure taxpayers will be highly delighted that their hard earned money has helped to fund this whole ridiculous enterprise.
Bourne and many of his colleagues are living in a bubble of their own making, and doing immense damage to the UK economy as a result. It is time DECC was shut down completely, and energy policy passed to the Business Dept.
Unfortunately for the workers on Teeside, Bourne has succeeded at a stroke in cutting CO2 emissions.