ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe is now the proud recipient of ISO 50001 certification, an internationally recognized standard for energy management systems (EMS). Awarded by TÜV Nord, the certification is official confirmation of the importance Germany’s biggest steel producer attaches to energy efficiency. ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe is thus taking a pioneering role. "We are the first European steel company with an energy management system certified to this standard," says the company’s CEO Edwin Eichler. The successful audit, taking in all production sites (Duisburg, Bochum, Dortmund, Eichen, Ferndorf and Finnentrop), was completed in just six months.
Energy efficiency in the political arena
With its certified EMS, ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe is constructively supporting European efforts to improve energy efficiency. But the company is also critical of some areas of forthcoming legislation: For example, there are plans to set absolute energy saving targets across the board, without taking appropriate account of previous energy savings. This will particularly impact companies like ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe, who have already undertaken major efforts in the past and now operate with a high level of energy efficiency. Legislators need to apply a sense of proportion in implementing the European requirements so as not to jeopardize Germany as an industrial location.
Systematic harnessing of efficiency potential
Following the successful milestone of EMS certification, the company’s efficiency drive will of course continue: "The audit confirmed the effectiveness of our energy management system, which we will now use to continuously improve our energy efficiency even further," says Christian Weinrich, head of the Energy Optimization/Studies (EOS) team at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe, which has overall responsibility for the EMS. Existing energy efficiency programs will be continued and new projects launched. Next fiscal year, for example, there are plans to recover waste heat from walking beam furnace 6 at hot rolling mill 2 in Duisburg. With an additional 25,000 megawatt hours per year – equivalent to the heating requirements of around 1,700 homes – ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe will altogether provide heat for almost 20,000 households, making it the biggest industrial contributor to district heat networks in the Ruhr area. The company also uses waste heat internally, both in production processes and to heat its own buildings.
In addition, state-of-the-art technologies are helping save energy and conserve resources. For example, the use of regenerative burners in the hot rolling mills significantly reduces the gas consumption of the pusher furnaces. Heat energy contained in high-temperature waste gas is stored directly and fed back to the burner process, allowing further reductions in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe is currently implementing a new software system throughout the company to further increase the transparency of energy flows. It enables the plants to monitor and evaluate their consumption around the clock and thus identify further potential for savings.
Helping secure competitiveness
The EMS is also part of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe’s efforts to maximize cost efficiency. "Every kilowatt hour we save cuts costs and helps us remain competitive," emphasizes Weinrich. As Germany’s biggest steel producer, a sustainable approach to energy use goes without saying: "We are playing our part in conserving resources and enhancing efficiency," says general energy manager Jürgen Hoffmann. "We are constantly working to improve our innovative processes and enhance our energy efficiency, which is also an important factor in securing jobs."