Major Corporations Come Together to Advance the First Commercial Batch of Sustainable Steel in the US
RMI-led Sustainable Steel Buyers Platform will enable corporate leaders to participate in the joint purchase of the first near-zero emissions steel in North America this decade.
New York, NY – September 20, 2023
Leading corporations, including Microsoft, Nextracker, and Trammell Crow Company, announced today that they have joined forces to advance the purchase of inaugural volumes of near-zero emissions steel in North America, via the Sustainable Steel Buyers Platform (“the Platform”), convened by clean energy nonprofit RMI (founded as Rocky Mountain Institute).
Starting later this year, the Platform will begin a competitive procurement process open to all steelmakers to deliver sustainable steel to North America. The platform membership aims to have this process result in a collective request for up to 2 million tons of near-zero emissions steel. The request for information process launched today will engage steelmakers to understand the conditions needed to enable this production.
“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with RMI and our supply chain partners. This first-of-a-kind procurement platform will enable us to support the advanced development of low carbon steel solutions. This type of collaboration is essential for meeting our carbon negative by 2030 goal and supporting the world in the transition to a more sustainable future,” said Julia Fidler, fuel and materials decarbonization lead at Microsoft.
“As the largest commercial development firm in the United States, Trammell Crow Company is hyper focused on reducing our embodied carbon throughout our value chain. We are proud to support the Sustainable Steel Buyers Platform, which will enhance not only our efforts, but the efforts of everyone that requires the use of steel in their products,” said James Murray-Coleman, director of sustainability for Trammell Crow Company.
Near-zero emissions steel, colloquially referred to as “green steel”, requires a technology shift from current practices to processes where emissions are either captured or avoided entirely through, for example, electrification or the use of renewable hydrogen. Steel is currently produced in carbon-intensive processes that use coal or natural gas, making the sector responsible for 7 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions today.
“Thanks to ambitious corporate climate commitments like those of the Platform’s partners, if US corporate demand for sustainable steel this decade was pooled effectively, the signal would be large enough to bring three US near zero emissions steel plants to investment decision before 2030,” said Thomas Koch Blank, managing director at RMI.
The demand for green steel is estimated to increase to 6.7 megatons a year by the end of this decade as corporations strive to meet their climate targets through investment in sustainable construction and clean manufacturing of steel-intensive goods. If near-zero emissions steel is used instead of fossil fuel-intensive traditional steel, the life-cycle emissions of cars, for example, can be reduced by nearly 30 percent, and those of energy infrastructure decrease by nearly 80 percent.
“As the leading supplier of solar trackers for utility-scale solar power generation projects around the world, it is our responsibility to understand our carbon footprint at the deepest level,” stated Nicolas Brion, senior steel sourcing director of Nextracker. “From our inception, our company has walked the walk and we’re not stopping now. We greatly look forward to participating in RMI’s Sustainable Steel Buyers Platform to accelerate the decarbonization of our supply chain.”
To ensure rigorous transparency throughout the joint procurement process, the Platform will build on RMI’s work developing product-level emissions guidance with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), as well as financial industry reporting standards in the Sustainable STEEL Principles.
RMI has successfully deployed similar initiatives to decarbonize aviation, spurring critical supply chains to action. Bringing together leading corporations via the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance, RMI is encouraging the adoption of sustainable aviation fuel to lower the climate impact of flight.
The Platform is the first buyers’ group formed in North America set to collectively procure green steel. Providing a method for US buyers to reach their sustainability targets and progress iron and steel sector decarbonization, its launch at New York Climate Week accompanied the announcement of the First Movers Coalition’s Near-Zero Steel 2030 Challenge. Alongside the leading sector certification body, ResponsibleSteel, the two initiatives are working together to identify demand and mobilize suppliers to accelerate clean supply chains.
“Since its launch in Glasgow at COP26, the First Movers Coalition has become a $15 billion demand signal for innovative clean technologies and energy sources. We are thrilled to be working with Greenhouse, an Australian based innovation platform, to launch the global Near-Zero Steel 2030 Challenge and identify the supply sources needed to meet that demand,” said Nancy Gillis, program head at the First Movers Coalition. “Suppliers who respond to the Challenge will have the opportunity to pre-qualify for a US-focused procurement for near-zero steel being led by RMI. Incorporating a specific procurement opportunity into the Challenge reflects FMC’s dedication to translating commitment into action, and combining the two initiatives will help to accelerate the scale-up of clean technologies in the steel industry.”
Revitalizing the US steel industry through sustainable steel production has multiple benefits. Establishing domestic, near zero-emissions steel production will be critical to US supply chain security, bolstering the nation’s trade balances, and enabling re-investment in infrastructure without increased climate ramifications. These projects can create skilled industrial employment opportunities and drive local investment, revitalizing traditional centers of steel production such as the US Midwest, as well as bringing new opportunities to regions that are investing heavily in renewable energy deployment.
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Notes to Editors
RMI, founded as Rocky Mountain Institute, is an independent nonprofit founded in 1982 that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions to align with a 1.5°C future and secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. We work in the world’s most critical geographies and engage businesses, policymakers, communities, and NGOs to identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent by 2030. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Oakland, California; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing. More information on RMI can be found at www.rmi.org or follow us on LinkedIn @RMI.
About the First Movers Coalition
The First Movers Coalition (FMC) is the World Economic Forum’s flagship decarbonisation initiative, aimed at harnessing the purchasing power of companies to decarbonize seven ‘hard-to-abate’ industrial sectors that currently account for 30% of global emissions: Aluminium, Aviation, Chemicals, Concrete, Shipping, Steel and Trucking; along with accelerating the adaptation of innovative Carbon Removal Technologies.