October is National Energy Awareness Month in the United States, meant to raise awareness for the importance of energy for sustainability and environmental well-being.
Carbon-based fossil fuels are finite resources that are gradually becoming too costly to extract, both in terms of environmental impact and financially. These resources will run out, or fall out of use as the cost of retrieval outweigh the reward.
Renewable, sustainable energy comes from resources that are replenished regularly — typically, the wind and the sun. Whether hydroelectric power, bioenergy, geothermal energy, or solar photovoltaic power, sustainable energy sources protect the environment and offer a future-proof way to power people’s lives.
Historically, renewable energy has been overlooked in favor of carbon-based energy, owing to the cost of installing new technology versus using what is already in existence. With costs decreasing, however, alongside a global urge to be more environmentally friendly and to implement more renewable and sustainable practices, things are set to change.
The global energy industry is shifting away from a reliance on carbon-intensive energy to sustainable, renewable energy. The steel industry is part of this shift. POSCO is one of the companies leading the way in achieving environmental well-being. It does so with environmentally responsible corporate practices, as well as by creating products that are eco-friendly and capable of changing energy production on a global scale.
Trends in the Global Energy Industry
The growing importance of sustainable energy is clear. According to the Renewable Energy Policy Network, in 2016, renewable energy capacity was enough to supply over 23 percent of global electricity, and worldwide new investment in renewable power and fuels climbed to a high of USD 285.9 billion in 2015.
With the focus on sustainability, the mix of energy sources being used is shifting, too. In the United States, while renewable energy and natural gas continue to grow, the consumption of coal is dropping.
As in many other industries and areas, technology is changing the face of the global energy industry. Artificial intelligence, big data, and other technological strides make energy production more efficient, optimizing practices and opening the door to more sustainability.
POSCO’s Energy and Environmental Strategy
As a major player in the steel industry, POSCO takes its role in promoting sustainability very seriously. Its energy and environmental strategy set out the company’s expectations and plans for ensuring eco-friendly practices on all fronts, guiding all activities to ensure it is acting in an environmentally-conscious manner.
POSCO’s environmental management policy makes sure that the company complies with all environmental regulations, and works to improve the environment in its processes. Clean production processes and optimized pollution prevention technology minimizes emissions. Efficient use of resources and byproducts also enhance efficiency.
POSCO uses clean energy and green technology wherever possible, leading the low-carbon green growth initiative. Its environmental management processes and performance are fully disclosed for transparency and sustainability.
As part of its strategy, POSCO is dedicated to creating eco-friendly products, with 20 eco-friendly steel products developed in 2016. Eco-friendly products accounted for almost half of all products developed that year.
Exploring POSCO’s Efforts
One of POSCO’s biggest environmental successes is PosMAC, or POSCO Magnesium Alloy Coating Product. PosMAC is an ultra-corrosion resistant alloyed steel plate, adding safety and efficiency to buildings and products constructed with this material.
How does PosMAC help the environment? This material is ideal for constructing solar panels, owing to its high resistance and affordability.
Solar photovoltaic units generally last about 30 years. The materials used within construction need to stand up to the elements for that long. The cost of the units, including materials, is about half of the total price of installing a solar energy system, making material pricing a key factor in the accessibility of solar.
Because PosMAC can resist weather and corrosion effects, and because it is affordable, it is well suited for use in solar units. PosMAC lowers the cost of installing solar energy, bringing it within reach of industry players and smaller consumers alike.
This year, POSCO signed MOUs with four major manufacturers of photovoltaic structures in India including Ganges and Purshotam to supply a total of 49,000 tons of PosMAC. Company executives hope to increase that number to 60,000 tons by 2018.
This is just one example of an environmentally friendly application of PosMAC. There is plenty of potential for this material to be used in the wind, biomass/fuel, small hydro, geothermal and energy efficiency sectors too. Wherever environmentally sustainable, cost-effective and high-performance is in need, POSCO and its steel products such as PosMAC have a role.
Cover photo courtesy of the Huffington Post.