I was honoured to moderate a panel at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London last week where I was joined by Rostyslav Shurma, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, and other panellists, to talk about the potential for the world’s first ‘green recovery’. The event coincided with the launch of the Government of Ukraine’s Coalition for the Green Recovery of the iron and steel sector, a program that Breakthrough Energy is helping set up and operate.
While Ukraine continues to deal with the impacts of a terrible war, forward-thinking leaders like Rostyslav and others in the Ukrainian government are doing critical early planning about the infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. The iron and steel and energy sectors are traditionally major greenhouse gas emitters (and major employers). This creates a unique window for Ukraine to make critical investment choices to establish thriving green industries for the future.
Ukraine’s great fundamentals could unlock a green recovery of its iron and steel sector. Ukraine has key natural resources, including minerals that are essential for low-carbon iron production, and an existing skilled workforce. Additionally, the country’s renewables potential and excess nuclear capacity can supply low-carbon energy. It is also ideally located to supply low-emissions steel to the growing European market via railway, river, and sea.
As I saw at the conference, there is huge momentum around this green iron and steel recovery coalition, but getting there will require navigating and addressing numerous risks. Panellists spoke about some of the challenges, such as the high costs of capital required and need for concessional capital and other guarantees, high energy premiums that will require infrastructure for both the products and energy itself, the imperative of securing offtakes and building a strong customer base of European steelmakers, and the need for a supportive legal, fiscal, and policy environment.
The coalition has several goals:
- develop a pipeline of investment projects (up to pre-feasibility level) along the green iron and steel value chain, including an assessment of key risks
- address critical financial and policy prerequisites for project implementation
- coordinate with relevant stakeholders to validate findings, seed ownership, and ensure alignment of projects with a holistic vision for recovery
- facilitate coordination between this iron ore and steel sector recovery initiative and other recovery initiatives
There is potential for Ukraine to become a global leader in green iron and steel. It will take resolve, innovation of new technologies and deployment at scale, global coordination, and the development of new value chains. This would provide employment opportunities and an economic backbone for the country as it emerges from this catastrophic war. What’s more, it would be an engine to support Europe’s decarbonization agenda.
The Ukrainian government has shown resolve and commitment to get this project this far but is calling on companies from the green iron and steel value chain, private investors, governments, IFIs, and philanthropists to help accelerate the development of new and existing efforts into investable projects.
Learn more about Breakthrough Energy’s efforts to accelerate clean technology solutions in Europe.