POSCO Declares ‘Carbon Neutrality’ Goal by 2050
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POSCO Declares ‘Carbon Neutrality’ Goal by 2050
Aims to raise sales in green hydrogen business to 30 trillion by 2050

21(Mon), Dec, 2020

POSCO Chairman Choi Jeong-woo gives a key-note speech on the theme of “Post-COVID-19 Megatrends: A New Decade” at WSD Steel Success Strategies held virtually on Oct. 27. (Photos: POSCO)

POSCO Chairman Choi Jeong-woo, who has been nominated for his second term, has declared an official company goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

Chairman Choi’s declaration may be construed as his judgment that decarbonization has become a mainstream of the global economy. Decarbonization is predicted to be the greatest task Choi will take up as he will officially take office for his second term in March.

POSCO held a board meeting on Dec. 11 and unanimously approved a proposal to recommend Chairman Choi as the sole CEO candidate to a shareholder general meeting slated for March.

Choi being the final CEO candidate virtually assures his second term. During the board meeting, POSCO pledged itself to achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050.

POSCO plans to come up with companywide low-carbon strategies. Initially, POSCO decided to dramatically expand eco-friendly facility investments while implementing R&D to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

POSCO plans to invest about 1 trillion won to cut air pollutant emissions by next year while accelerating the development of a hydrogen-based steelmaking process.

Hydrogen-based steelmaking process is an eco-friendly technology with no carbon dioxide emissions by replacing coal for hydrogen to extract crude steel through smelting process of iron ores.

POSCO declaring carbon neutrality is known to reflect Chairman Choi’s determination to the cause. Chairman Choi said, “In a long-term perspective, a hydrogen-based decarbonization steel-making process should be attained.”

A view of the site of an anode material plant, to be built by POSCO Chemical at an area of 165,203 sq. meters, equivalent to the size of 20 soccer stadiums, at the Yulchon Industrial Complex in Gwangyang, Jeollanam-do.

Korea’s iron and steel producer sectors have entered emergency management mode as the government announced strategies to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 on Dec. 7. Iron and steel producers’ blast furnaces use coking coal as a major raw material, emitting huge amounts of CO2 emissions.

POSCO, the nation’s biggest source of CO2 emissions, discharged 81.48 million tons and 22.24 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, respectively. If each country is scrambling to introduce carbon tariffs, it would hit the iron and steel sector the hardest. POSCO is trying to take preemptive steps to cope with it.

POSCO has launched a decarbonization initiative to brace for the strengthening of environmental regulations such as reinforcing carbon trading and the possible introducing of a carbon border tax.

The United States and EU are mostly likely to introduce a carbon border tax. As POSCO, the nation’s biggest source of CO2, has declared carbon neutrality, other companies in the iron and steel, refinery and chemical sectors are expected to follow suit.

Some business sources said decarbonization will put a heavy cost burden on companies, thus weakening export competition. There are a lot of works and hurdles POSCO will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

POSCO’s demonstration lithium plant in Argentina.

POSCO Eyes Global Secondary Battery Materials Market

POSCO Group is focusing on expanding its secondary battery materials business as well as those related to lithium, nickel, and graphite, which are core raw materials for the production of secondary batteries.

The group decided to build a value chain for secondary battery materials in accordance with a rise in lithium reserves at a salt lake in Argentina, the pushing of an eco-friendly nickel smelting project, and an equity investment into a graphite mine.

POSCO Chairman Choi Jeong-woo said, “We’re the sole company in the world to build a supply chain of secondary battery materials ranging from raw materials such as lithium, nickel and graphite to cathode and anode materials.”

He called for his executives and staff members to mobilize their resources to nurture secondary battery materials as the world’s top businesses, based on its differentiation competitiveness.

The value chain of the secondary battery industry involves companies producing batteries for EVs, cathode, anode, electrolytes, other secondary battery material companies; and lithium, nickel, graphite and other secondary battery raw materials suppliers.

Outcomes of an evaluation of lithium reserves of the Hombre Muerto salt lake in Argentina showed that deposits amount 13,5 million tons. That is six times more than 2.2 million tons estimated at the time of acquisition.

The amount could produce 370 million EV units. As lithium concentration of the lake was confirmed to stand at 921mg/L, the highest level in the world, the lake turned out to top in terms of lithium deposit and concentration levels.

POSCO has decided to push ahead with production of high-purity nickel, an essential raw material for producing anode material. POSCO is trying to diversify graphite, a raw material for producing cathode material, for which the steelmaker fully depends on Chinese imports.

POSCO is seeking to secure graphite mines in Africa and Australia. In a long-term perspective, POSCO is striving to half its dependence on Chinese graphite imports.

POSCO is also trying to develop materials of a solid-state battery, emerging as a next-generation secondary battery.

POSCO Eyes Hyperloop Era

Cyber Formula is an animation that anyone interested in car racing would have seen when they were younger. (The Korean title is translated as Racer of Glory).

When the main character uses the “booster” function during a race, a car dashes at the speed of sound. In reality, the maximum speed of an F1 race car is about 350 km/h, while the speed of sound reaches 1,224 km/h - about four times faster.

However, it seems that this cartoon-like “sonic speed” transportation could be materialized within 10 years. That is, if “Hyperloop” is commercialized.

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