The future of steel in New Zealand: Seven steps to becoming a global low-carbon exemplar

By Dr Troy Coyle, HERA CEO

The International Panel on Climate Change’s recent report described climate change as “widespread, rapid and intensifying”. The steel industry has a part to play and is leading extensive collaboration to reduce emissions in the near term and activate a long-term framework to become a global low-carbon leader.

The steps we are taking now:

1. HERA has created the world’s first comprehensive steel products carbon offset programme, independently developed and based on verifiable data. The scheme will enable zero-carbon steel options via the calculation and offsetting of carbon in rollformed and fabricated steel items.

2. Collaborating to assign science-based targets. Globally, the Science Based Targets initiative shows industries how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change. The Net-Zero Steel Pathway Methodology Project report released in July identifies a method for assigning targets to steel manufacturing companies to meet these targets.

3. Developing a zero-carbon reductant for steel-making. Victoria University of Wellington is researching novel ways to use hydrogen as the reductant in New Zealand’s unique iron sands-based steel-making process.

4. Achieving local certification. New Zealand’s sustainable steel certification programme is led by the Sustainable Steel Council and measured against Treasury’s Living Standards Framework. About 70% of structural steel is being produced by certified fabricators.

5. HERA is developing Australasia’s first material passport. A material passport for structural steel will enable it to be taken from one building or application and moved to another at the end of life, because there is a record of quality, usage and historical stresses.

6. Extending the lifespan of steel beyond the Building Code’s current 50-year requirement to 100 years+ through design and durability and corrosion modelling.

7. HERA is investigating how intertwining Mātauranga Māori with the construction process may expand our thinking when it comes to the life of steel with a 500 vs 50-year mindset.

Dr Troy Coyle brings more than 20 years’ experience in innovation management across a range of industries including materials science, medical radiation physics, biotechnology, sustainable building products, renewable energy and steel. She is a scientist with a PhD (University of NSW) with training in journalism and communications.

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Xpress Engineer NZ, NZ Engineering News or the parent company, Hayley Media.