Making the world’s first fossil-free steel in Sweden

The Swedish company HYBRIT is located 100km north of the Arctic Circle in Gällivare, a town home to nearly 18,000 people. It has suffered from a lack of employment opportunities – but the creation of HYBRIT, an industrial-scale demonstration steel plant, will create thousands of new jobs in northern Sweden. The project combines progressive climate policy with an ambitious approach to employment, business and welfare policy. 

HYBRIT was nominated for the Innovation in Politics Award (2021) in the category Economy. We asked the team 5 questions to find out more…

Can you tell us a bit about HYBRIT?

Our ambition is to change the Swedish iron and steel industry and develop the first fossil-free steel. The HYBRIT initiative has the potential to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions by at least 10%. The north of Sweden also has long-established knowledge and experience in the mining and steel industry. The area gives us access to fossil-free electricity: hydro power, wind power and a surplus of electricity. 

How did this idea to launch the project come about?

The idea of HYBRIT emerged from three companies (SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall) who wanted to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. They took the initiative, and our municipalities had to see if we could offer fossil-free electricity and hydro and wind power.

Were there certain challenges that you faced in that process? 

Of course, it’s not easy for a small town like Gällivare to compete with larger cities, so we had to prove ourselves and highlight our strengths. But the combination of local industrial know-how with a local political consensus and willingness to invest in the project has helped us.

How did the citizens react to the project?

Really great! Our citizens are very proud that HYBRIT is going to be located in Gällivare. Most of all, it secures jobs for a long future for the people in the area. And they are proud that the region is at the forefront of fossil-free steel and sustainability, which is of course very important for people nowadays. 

What advice do you have for others who want to go in a similar direction?

First of all, you have to start to plan at an early stage. It is also important to foster political unity. The business community wants stability, so it’s important that all the local parties sign up to it, which we managed to succeed in. You also need to focus on communicating and showing the possibilities and opportunities. 

Find out more about HYBRIT Fossil-Free Steel Plant

Do you know of an exciting project breaking new ground that is worthy of an Innovation in Politics Award? Submissions for 2023 are now open: The Innovation in Politics Awards