A EUROPEAN (NO) COAL AND (GREEN) STEEL COMMUNITY? - A Technological Innovation System case approach in the fossil-free steel sector
Abstract: The EU has committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 and thereby heavily reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. Policymakers and scholars have pointed out the development of fossil-free technological energy innovations as crucial in reaching these objectives. In line with this, hydrogen as a fossil-free source of energy is being increasingly explored and invested in, corresponding to a crucial part of achieving emission reductions and are depicted to have substantial potential. However, the developments of hydrogen-technology projects are in its infancy and are conveniently operationalized as early innovation processes in transition. In line with this, a few actors in the European steel industry, that are responsible for a substantial part of the carbon-emissions, have committed to utilizing hydrogen to produce fossil-free ‘green’ steel. A particular project that has been portrayed as a potential European frontrunner in green steel production using hydrogen is the company Hybrit, initiated in Northern Sweden by a consortium involving three companies. This interdisciplinary case study has applied the theoretical framework of Technological Innovation System to Hybrit to examine the overarching aim of studying potential bottlenecks and possibilities for fossil-free hydrogen in the steel sector. More specifically, the structural elements and the system functions were elaborated on Hybrit to analyze the matureness of the system by conducting a combined methodological study of semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Moreover, Swedish and European policy instruments related to hydrogen in the steel industry were additionally analyzed. The outcome of this study demonstrates that Hybrit is in regard to the theoretical framework fairly mature, with a few but critical hurdles. Findings from the study further revealed that the Swedish and European policy instruments are fostering hydrogen developments but have opposing tendencies in terms of coherence.
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