Saudi Arabia’s current production of direct-reduced iron via natural gas can be converted to carbon-free iron with replacement of green hydrogen. The country has excellent solar and wind energy potential, participants at the Saudi International Iron and Steel Conference in Riyadh this week, for which Kallanish was a program partner.
Hadeed and Al Ittefaq produce DRI in Saudi Arabia. The first has five modules with an annual production capacity of 5.5 million tonnes and the second has two modules with a capacity of 1.45 mt/year.
In 2021, Saudi Arabia recorded DRI production growth of 18.1% year-on-year to rank fourth in the world with 6.13 million tonnes.
Nadhmi Al-Nasr, Managing Director of Saudi Future City Neom, said at the event: “Saudi Arabia’s futuristic project, the city of Neom, is home to the largest green hydrogen project in the world, including production is expected to start in 2026 at an investment cost of $6.5 billion with 650 t/day green hydrogen production capacity.
Meanwhile, the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) agrees with the view that the Middle East is fertile ground for green iron manufacturing in a new report. .
“As the global steel industry plans to shift to direct reduced iron production and the use of green hydrogen to reduce emissions, the MENA region can lead the global decarbonization of steel by investing in hydrogen green and renewable energy,” says Soroush Basirat of the IEEFA. “The DRI-EAF process, which uses syngas made from natural gas or gasified coal and also electricity, could be zero emissions if green hydrogen (produced using electrolysis powered by renewable energy) and electric arc furnaces powered by renewable energy were used.”
“A switch from gas-powered DRI to green hydrogen could start before other regions. Initially, it would be possible to replace 30% of the gas with hydrogen in the historical fleet of DR power plants without major modification of the equipment,” adds Basirat. “Access to such high solar energy resources makes it possible to produce green hydrogen at a competitive price. With available capacity in the MENA region, producing green hydrogen below $1/kg is achievable by 2050. With the European Union soon establishing a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, steel exports in the MENA region would have an advantage if they were carbon free.