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Diffusion of energy efficient technologies in the German steel industry and their impact on energy consumption

Arens, M., Worrell, E.
Energy 2014 v.73 pp. 968-977
arc furnaces, coal, energy efficiency, oxygen, steel, technological change, turbines, Germany
We try to understand the role of technological change and diffusion of energy efficient technologies in order to explain the trend of energy intensity developments in the German steel industry. We selected six key energy efficient technologies and collected data to derive their diffusion since their introduction in Germany. Since all technologies have been applied in Germany for more than 30 years we would expect complete diffusion. We found complete diffusion only for basic oxygen furnaces and continuous casting. Newer technologies (i.e. basic oxygen furnace gas recovery, top pressure recovery turbine, coke dry quenching and pulverized coal injection) diffused quicker in the initial phase but then diffusion slowed down. Key improvements in energy efficiency are due to electric arc furnaces (24%), basic oxygen furnaces (12%), and continuous casting (6%) between 1958 and 2012. The contribution of top pressure recovery turbines, pulverized coal injection and basic oxygen furnaces gas recovery accounts in total of about 3%. If the selected technologies were diffused completely, the future energy consumption could be reduced by 4.5% compared to 2012. Our findings suggest that our selection of six technologies is the key driver for energy intensity developments within the German steel industry between 1958 and 2012.