Is Nucor falling behind on decarbonization trend in steel industry?

Today during Nucor Corporation’s (NUE) annual meeting of stockholders, investors and media are likely to hear highlights of the “record year” that the company had in 2018: record earnings, high performing stock price, leadership in key markets, and new facilities. But despite this indisputable success, is Nucor missing a growing trend in the steel industry?

In August of 2018, Evraz Steel’s steel production facility in Pueblo, Colorado signed a precedent-setting PPA for approximately 240 MW of solar energy with Xcel Energy. ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company, signed a 5 MW solar deal for one of their facilities in Spain just a month ago and, the same week, announced a $72 million investment in the development of low carbon production technology using hydrogen. Both Tata and SSAB have launched their own investments in hydrogen technology. Earlier this week, US Steel announced a $1 billion investment in one of its facilities in Pennsylvania, which will result in major energy efficiency gains. The company also announced it will complete its first electric arc furnace facility in Alabama.

While Nucor is growing, it doesn’t appear to be positioning itself to meet growing market demand for lower-carbon products. A company that built its brand on supplying large amounts of recycled steel for green building projects seems blind to the opportunity to maintain its low-carbon status in the market. Nucor could take simple steps – like switching its electricity supply to clean renewable sources and investing in their own hydrogen production research and development – to help it maintain a competitive advantage as the market evolves. Major construction firms like Skanska, for example, are already starting to ask their steel and other material suppliers about the embodied carbon in their materials.

For more information on Mighty Earth’s campaign for clean steel, visit http://www.mightyearth.org/steel/