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Energy Consumption in US Steel Industry

Here is a structure summary on US steel industry energy consumption. Data sources are primarily from US EIA Industry Briefs.

Energy Consumption by Fuel

The steel industry used close to 2.0 quads of energy in 1998. Nearly one-third of the industry's energy is derived from coal, most of which is used to produce coke for use in the blast furnace. Natural gas and electricity combined account for most of the remainder. Two major byproduct fuels - coke oven gas and blast furnace gas - are recovered and used to generate steam, preheat blast furnace air, or supply heat to other plant processes.

Energy Consumption by Fuel - 1998 (NAICS 331111 & 3312)
(trillion Btu)

Chart depicting Energy Use by Fuel, NAICS 331111 & 3312 - 1998 (trillion Btu)

Total Energy Consumed
2,194 trillion Btu (with electrical losses*)

* Losses incurred during the generation and transmission of electricity

Fuel Consumption by End Use

About 40% of the total energy input to the steel industry is used to chemically reduce iron ore to liquid pig iron in the blast furnace. The majority of the energy input to the blast furnace is in the form of coke (made from coal in coke ovens), although supplemental fuels can be injected. About 25% of the energy is used in process heating, including electric arc furnaces and reheating furnaces. Natural gas and byproduct gases (coke oven gas and blast furnace gas) are combusted in boilers to generate process steam. Electricity is used to power equipment (including casting machines and rolling mills) and to heat, light, and cool facilities.

Heat & Power Consumption by End Use - 1998
(NAICS 331111 & 3312)

Chart depicting Heat & Power Consumption by End Use, NAICS 324 - 1998

Total Heat & Power = 1726 trillion Btu

Energy Consumption by Sector

The majority of steel industry facilities are covered by NAICS 331111 (iron and steel mills). This sector accounts for more than 95% of steel industry energy use. Of the remaining NAICS for the steel industry, only 331112 (electrometallurgical feroallor products) and 3312 (sheet product manufacturing from purchased steel) have data classified in the most recent MECS.

Energy Consumption by Major Process - 1997

Process Percentage of Total
Sintering 2
Cokemaking 0
Ironmaking 39
BOF Steelmaking 3
EAF Steelmaking 13
Casting 3
Boilers 11
Cogeneration 5
All Other Processes (e.g., reheating, rolling finishing)* 23

* Taken as the difference between known total industry use and known subtotal use

Energy Expenditures

Energy costs account for 17% of the cost of manufacturing steel, on the order of $60 per ton. In 1998, the industry spent about $6.4 billion on energy, roughly 8% of all energy expenditures in the manufacturing sector.

Energy Expenditures - 1998 (NAICS 331111 & 3312)
(Billion Dollars)

Chart depicting Energy Expenditures* – 1998 (Million Dollars)

Total: $6.382 billion

* Estimated due to data being withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual establishments.
NOTE: These estimates are open-market expenditures and exclude transfers of energy sources from other establishments inside a company. The original purchase, as done by the establishment from which the transfer is made, may not be covered by the MECS.

Onsite Generation

About 10% of electricity used by the steel industry is produced onsite, primarily through cogeneration. Almost all onsite generation occurs in integrated steel mills. Cogeneration can provide competitive advantages over purchased electricity, since thermal efficiencies are much higher and excess electricity can be sold back to the grid. Several large cogeneration facilities have been built recently, but these projects have all been funded by third parties.

Net Demand for Electricity - 1998 (NAICS 331111 & 3312)
(Million kWh)

Chart depicting Net Demand for Electricity, NAICS 331111 & 3312 - 1998 (Million kWh)

Total: 51,370 million kWh

Trends in Cogeneration Capacity
(Million kWh)

Graph depicting Trends in Cogeneration Capacity (kWh).  Click here for data table.

Energy Intensity

The U.S. iron and steel industry has reduced its process energy intensity by about 45% since 1975 through energy conservation measures, process improvements, and consolidation of the industry at product plants that are more modern. In 1994, the average intensity (excluding electricity losses) of producing semi-finished steel at integrated mills using BOF steelmaking was about 20 million Btu/ton; for EAF steel producers it was 8 million Btu/ton. The charts below, which give additional measures for steelmaking energy intensity, also illustrate the decrease of this measure over time.

Energy Intensity

Graph depicting Energy Intensity (Btu/Dollar Shipments)

* NAICS 331111 (previous data are for SIC 3312)

Energy Purchases for Heat and Power - 1992-2001
(Percent of Shipments)

Graph depicting Energy Purchases for Heat and Power - 1985-1999 (Percent of Shipments).  Click here for data table.


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