Bernhard Osburg becomes President of the Steel Industry Association

Bernhard Osburg

The head of Thyssen-Krupp Steel Europe said: “2023 must be the year of implementation.”

(Photo: IMAGO/Rupert Oberhäuser)

Berlin Bernhard Osburg, CEO of Thyssen-Krupp Steel Europe AG, will take over the baton from Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff as President of the Steel Industry Association at the steel industry’s New Year’s reception in Berlin on Thursday. The industry is “facing immense challenges in order to master the transformation to climate neutrality,” Osburg told the Handelsblatt. “We are ready to take on these challenges. This involves massive investments in new production processes.”

The steel companies have to completely restructure their processes. Direct reduction plants that can be operated with hydrogen take the place of blast furnaces in the primary steel route. The secondary steel route, i.e. the melting of steel scrap in electric steel furnaces, must in future be operated entirely with electricity from renewable sources. In both cases, climate-neutral steel is at the end of the production process.

The conversion requires investments in the billions. Companies such as Thyssen-Krupp, Salzgitter and Arcelor-Mittal have already decided on the relevant investments and have started to implement them in some cases. But they need political support, since climate-neutral steel will initially not be competitive on the world market.

Demand for reliable commitments from politicians

Osburg said the companies welcomed the willingness of politicians in Brussels, at federal and state level to support the steel industry in managing the transformation process. “It is important, however, that the outstanding decisions are made quickly. 2023 must be the year of implementation,” he said. It is important for companies that commitments and individual payments, for example for pilot projects, result in a reliable inflow of funds.

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The federal government in particular has a say in this. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck has promised the steel industry double-digit billions. The instruments of choice are climate protection agreements with a term of 15 years. They are intended to compensate for the additional costs for companies compared to conventional production methods. The first contracts are expected to be signed this year.

Osburg has been with Thyssen-Krupp since 2000, and the mechanical engineer has been Chairman of the Board of Thyssen-Krupp Steel Europe since 2021. Hans-Jürgen Kerkhoff was President of the Steel Industry Association for 14 years and is now retiring.

More: Two business associations are recruiting new staff

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