• A low-emission steel production plant project has been announced.

  • Its construction should begin in 2024 in Fos-sur-Mer, for commissioning in 2027.

  • It would create 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.

A project for a low-carbon iron and steel production plant, located in Fos-sur-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhône), was announced on Thursday by a consortium formed by the European incubator EIT InnoEnergy, with in particular Engie and Forvia.

“Sustainable steel company”, the company, called GravitHy, aims to be built in 2024 for a start of production in 2027, with more than 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Produced using low-carbon hydrogen

For this, 2.2 billion euros of overall investment will be necessary, to be raised in part via an opening of the capital and the bank loan.

The idea is to produce direct reduced iron (DRI), either used locally to make “green” steel or marketed globally.

It will be produced using low-carbon hydrogen instead of the coke-based process.

This hydrogen will “initially” come from French electricity production, which is low in carbon because of its high nuclear share.

Eventually it is planned to “replace it as much as possible with renewable energies”, specifies Karine Vernier, general manager of EIT InnoEnergy France and president of the consortium, which wants to be a pioneer.

Steel now accounts for 8% of global energy demand

According to her, the additional cost of this “green” metal compared to the “grey” will be completely “absorbable by the market.

And even, with current energy prices, we will be almost at equal cost”.

GravitHy aims to produce two million tons of DRI per year.

In “green” steel, Europe already lists two initiatives, in Sweden, which go as far as steel production.

But none offers the material at the previous stage, intended for steelmakers, underlines Karine Vernier.

The steel sector now accounts for 8% of global energy demand and 7% of the energy sector's annual CO2 emissions.

According to its initiators, this first GravitHy plant would make it possible to avoid up to 4 million tonnes of CO2, or 5% of the industry's 2019 emissions.

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