Giant Electrolyser Planned in France
July 19, 2022
Excess Unsold Food Products, Waste Food Disposal Farm Feed, De-Packaging, Recycling
Hydrogen-derived DRI is a major component of the green steel value chain and could play a significant role in cutting emissions from the steel and iron sector. Steel and iron are currently responsible for 7.2% of all emissions worldwide. Hydrogen is the favourite replacement for natural gas and coal used as a reducing agent for iron ore. It removes oxygen creating direct reduced iron [DRI] or sponge iron used to make steel.
The Green Steel Group is planning to erect a giant electrolyser array in France, funded by a consortium including steel buyers hydrogen developers and an EU-funded innovation hub. Around €2.2bn will be ploughed into the venture by the GravitHy consortium, that plans to build its first DRI plant in Fos sur Mer, southern France. Construction will begin in 2024 and will hopefully be completed and running by 2027.
The plant is expected to produce 2 million tonnes per year of hydrogen-reduced iron for use in green steel manufacture on-site. Alternatively it will produce hot-briquetted iron (HBI) for export. The electrolyser installation will have a capacity of 650MW, and is set to be one of the largest in Europe, producing 110,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year (based on 100% electrolyser utilisation rate). The electrolyser will need 7TWh of power annually, which will be sourced anturally from wind and solar. However, the project may use grid-sourced nuclear electricity in its initial stages.
Lord Adair Turner, chair of the Energy Transitions Commission believes that steel producers may see their value chain broken up. The production of DRI will probably take place away from steel mills where green hydrogen costs less to produce. Transporting DRI to properly equipped steel mills economically and safely would prove difficult anyway. DRI is prone to re-oxidisation, so has to be kept under a layer of inert gas such as nitrogen. Compressing DRI into compacted briquettes is the most practical option, as these have less exposed surface area, and are easier to export.