A consortium comprising EIT InnoEnergy, Engie New Ventures, FORVIA, GROUPE IDEC, Plug, and Primetals Technologies is launching the GravitHy sustainable iron company which will be backed by an initial €2.2bn investment.
The green iron company will support growing demand for zero carbon steel, while contributing to Europe’s Fit for 55 package ambitions to decarbonise hard-to-abate industries.
The first GravitHy plant will be built in the area of Fos sur Mer, Southern France, with construction starting in 2024 and aiming to be fully operational by 2027, subject to the required regulatory approvals.
It has an ambition to produce an annual throughput of 2mn tons of Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) and create over 3,000 direct and indirect jobs for the region.
The steel sector is responsible for 8% of the global energy demand and 7% of the energy sector CO2 emissions (including process emissions) annually – making it one of the biggest carbon emitting industries.
GravitHy supports the emissions reduction by generating and using green and low-carbon hydrogen to produce DRI. The DRI will be used either on-site as a feedstock for green steel or traded globally under the form of Hot-Briquetted Iron (HBI).
This directly contributes to the decarbonisation of the hard-to-abate value chain of steelmaking and supports the EU’s ambition of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Karine Vernier, Consortium Leader of GravitHy, said there is considerable appetite to transform energy-intensive industries in France, with the steel sector high on the agenda.
"GravitHy will be a vital component in the French government’s proposed steel roadmap and its ambitions to cut CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030," she said.
"It’s time to make a step-change in technology, to replace old blast furnaces with DRIs produced from green and low-carbon hydrogen and combined with electric arc furnaces. Together, with our partners, we are committed to tackling this challenge by being an enabler of industrial value chains and clean tech innovation. With GravitHy’s first plant, we will be positioned in a location with easy access to European trade markets, so we can increase the security of steel supply on the continent.”
Agnès Pannier-Runacher, French Minister for Energy Transition, said it must make France the first major nation to transition completely from fossil fuels.
"For this, we need our industry to develop the innovative decarbonisation solutions required for today and tomorrow," she said.
"GravitHy is an emblematic initiative that responds to these challenges which will contribute to and support the vital decarbonisation of the steel sector. This large-scale industrial project will also contribute to structuring our national decarbonised hydrogren production sector.”
GravitHy’s roster of founders has been brought together on the basis of cross-sector collaboration and competence sharing.
EIT InnoEnergy, the world's largest investor in sustainable energy innovations, will provide its business acceleration services through its European Green Hydrogen Acceleration Center (EGHAC), supported by Breakthrough Energy.
EGHAC was set up to serve as a key enabler of industrial value chains and clean tech innovation, with the aim of developing an annual €100bn green hydrogen economy by 2025.
What each partner brings to GravitHy
- Engie offers deep knowledge of hydrogen, renewables and electricity markets
- Plug offers experience on integrated hydrogen projects and is a leading manufacturer of electrolysers
- GROUPE IDEC is a major player in all segments of the real estate market (development, investment, design-build, energy) and will provide services for the industrial site.
- Primetals Technologies provides leading technology and expertise to enable green and low carbon steel production
- FORVIA represents the transport and mobility side of the value chain
Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, added that given the geopolitical, energy and industrial situation we are experiencing, Europe has a strategic interest in developing a thriving hydrogen economy.
"The European Commission is working to establish a regulatory and financial framework conducive to the emergence of European value chains that will ensure European industrial leadership in this field," he said.
"The GravitHy project is an important milestone and will contribute to our European goal of producing 10 million tonnes of clean hydrogen by 2030.”