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Moroccan steelmaker heads for 90% wind-powered steel

31.10.2016

Sonasid, the leading Moroccan producer of long steel products, is set to increase its use of wind power to provide 90% of its electricity consumption by 2018, placing itself firmly behind the Moroccan government’s commitment to CO2 reduction.

Sonasid, a joint venture in which ArcelorMittal has a 50% stake, relies heavily on electricity for its steelmaking, with an electric arc furnace that melts scrap and recycles it into new steel, and two rolling mills. Every year it consumes some 430 GWh to produce around 850,000 tonnes of steel, sold mainly to the domestic market. Over the past two years, Sonasid has purchased 14% of its electricity needs from renewable sources, enabling a reduction of 32,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. 

Recently, Sonasid committed to a new contract with the country’s largest wind generator, setting it on course to decarbonize the electricity it uses to produce steel by 90% by 2018. 

Following the liberalization of the renewable energy market in Morocco, wind energy production in the country has grown rapidly. The share of renewables in the Moroccan grid overall is now around 34%. In the run up to the Paris agreement on climate change last November, the government made an unconditional commitment to a 13% reduction on business as usual CO2 emissions by 2030, and a 32% reduction conditional on Morocco receiving new sources of finance and enhanced support.  As part of this commitment, 52% of the Moroccan grid is scheduled to be powered by renewables by 2030.

Sonasid’s steel has supported the economic development of Morocco as it has developed its infrastructure and real estate. The company has also been a driver in the growth of the circular economy in Morocco, exploring opportunities to source scrap from emerging domestic sectors  such as automobiles, aircraft, and the energy sector, and an innovative programme set up to dismantle ships for recycling. Through such activities Sonasid is not only seeking to reduce the country’s reliance on imported scrap but is catalyzing the growth of a new economic sector for Morocco.

Morocco will host the next climate change conference meeting, COP22, in Marrakech between November 7-18, following the adoption of the Paris Agreement at COP21 last December. This first binding global agreement aims to limit global warming to below 2°C.

Explanatory Note:

The EAF route is one of two routes by which steel is made. The EAF route produces recycled steel using electricity, and has a much lower carbon footprint compared to the blast furnace route. Owing to its use of scrap and the impurities this contains, the EAF route is better suited to producing steels for construction and infrastructure. The high quality steels needed in industries such as automotive, however, need to be produced via the blast furnace route.  In addition, the global demand for steel currently outstrips the supply of scrap.  Over the medium to long term, the stock of steel in the world will need to increase before there is sufficient stocks of steel to allow scrap to become the main input. Currently around 30% of total steel produced is from scrap[1] and 70% is primary steel, and it is projected that it will take until 2070 to the reverse: 70% scrap and 30% primary steel.