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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Katie Chan

Drivers and Barriers of Low-Carbon Technological Innovations in the European Iron and Steel Sector

Katie Chan

Drivers and Barriers of Low-Carbon Technological Innovations in the European Iron and Steel Sector

The iron and steel sector is the largest energy-consuming industry in the world (Hidalgo, 2005), with European producers contributing to 6% of European anthropogenic CO2 emissions (EUROFER, 2006b).  This sector has been focusing on product innovations to help meet the needs of customers which reflect upon the socio-economic state of the region.  However, technological process innovations are also required in the European iron and steel sector to achieve long-term reductions in CO2 emissions within the European Union (EU). 

In 2005, a consortium of incumbents, academics, and small-medium enterprises joined together to establish the Ultra-Low CO2 Steelmaking Programme (ULCOS).  By sharing their expertise, ULCOS aims to establish a breakthrough technology which will reduce CO2 emissions from the steelmaking process by 50% by 2015.  This dissertation analyses the drivers and barriers of radical low-carbon innovations in the European iron and steel sector.  Through a combination of literature reviews and personal interviews, strengths and weaknesses of the current ULCOS joint initiative are assessed in combination with the existing European Commission (EC) Framework Programme for research and development.  Innovation theories and models are utilised to help assess the impacts of exogenous factors (such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme), and endogenous factors (such as the technological paradigm of incumbents), which affect low-carbon innovations in this sector.  The results of this research helps provide innovation policy-makers with options to consider to support the EC’s bottom-up approach in stimulating long-term low-carbon technological innovations.