UK Steel Database

Taking steel from coal to clean

Authors: Wilf Lytton & Phil MacDonald

Ember works to accelerate the coal phase-out for electricity generation. As the UK reaches the end of its coal power phase-out journey, we’ve mapped a key remaining sector where coal is still used: iron & steel production. However, there are exciting opportunities for the sector to become coal-free, and significant demand from the rapid growth in wind power and electric vehicles, to name two sectors heavily reliant on steel.

We will continue to update our steel resources as new data becomes available. If you have comments or would like to contribute new information, please contact us.

The context

Ember’s analysis shows that more than three quarters of industrial coal use currently happens in the iron and steelmaking sector.  Cutting coal use in primary iron and steel production is challenging since low or zero-carbon steelmaking technologies are not yet mature, the market for zero-carbon steel is unproven, and appetite for new investment in steelmaking remains weak in the UK and Europe due to chronic overcapacity in the sector.

On the surface, electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmaking appears to be far less emissions-intensive than blast furnace production with coal. However, UK steelmakers cannot rely on steel recycled via EAFs alone to meet demand for low-carbon steel in domestic markets and beyond. Primary steel is still essential, and the UK needs to invest in decarbonised processes, based either on hydrogen or CCS, or a combination of those technologies.

Wilf Lytton

Industrial Policy Advisor, Ember

What data have we collected

To gain a better understanding of the sector, the project team compiled data on UK steelmakers from a range of publicly available resources. This includes information on plant locations, production type and capacity, workforce, emissions along with other data. We have compiled this data into several publicly accessible resources with varying levels of detail on the UK steel sector.

You can explore these resources below and via the links on this page.

Explore the report: