Tata Steel UK’s chairman, Henrik Adam, has urged for fair competition as the company seeks government subsidies from the UK to decarbonize its Port Talbot steelworks.
Adam pointed out that European competitors receive substantial government funding to transition to greener operations.
Reports suggest the UK government has offered Tata £300 million for decarbonization efforts.
The government expressed its commitment to a decarbonized and competitive future for the steel sector.
The Department for Business and Trade stated that the steel industry is critical to Wales, emphasizing its commitment to securing a decarbonized future during a visit to Port Talbot.
Port Talbot houses the largest steelworks in Britain, known for its continuous production of steel used in various products.
It serves as a strategic asset, providing the UK with a local and reliable source of steel production. However, the steelworks is also a significant polluter, and its owners have pledged to transform the site and significantly reduce emissions.
Adam emphasized the need for a level playing field with European steelmakers and affirmed Tata’s commitment to decarbonization. He clarified that the company is not seeking special treatment but wants equal support for investment and competitive energy costs.
The two blast furnaces at Port Talbot are nearing the end of their operational life and would require expensive upgrades to continue functioning.
One option is replacing them with electric arc furnaces powered by renewable energy, which would involve substantial costs and extensive planning.
Tata Steel UK is seeking government subsidies to cover the construction expenses and future energy bills. Adam expressed concerns about the competitive disadvantage faced if other nations subsidize their competitors and provide support for energy costs.
The influx of cheaper steel imports, particularly from China, has posed challenges for companies like Tata Steel.
According to Roz Bulleid from the independent think tank Green Alliance, the steel industry shares a common decarbonization goal.
Bulleid highlighted the significant impact of the Port Talbot site on greenhouse gas emissions and acknowledged the industry’s efforts to invest in cleaner steel. However, she called for increased financial commitment and accelerated decarbonization processes.
Green Alliance estimated that shutting down two of the UK’s four blast furnaces would have an emissions impact equivalent to removing 2.4 million petrol cars from the roads.
When asked about potential job cuts resulting from the long-term transformation of Port Talbot, Adam stated that it is too early to predict job losses, as there will be changes in job profiles and the emergence of new employment opportunities.