Japan’s second-largest steel manufacturer JFE has published further details of its plan to repurpose the site of the Keihin blast furnace in Kawasaki, due to be decommissioned on 16 September, to build out a hydrogen and ammonia supply complex.

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The former blast furnace’s land will also be used to site hydrogen and renewable power generation, as well as a research and development centre for next-generation technologies.

While the expected size, cost, and even the feedstock of the H2 project have not been disclosed, the redevelopment is likely to cost more than ¥2trn ($13m) in private and public spending, according to Kawasaki city government figures.

JFE announced it would shut down the blast furnace in 2020, which will cut the company’s crude steel production by 13%.

But the promise to base hydrogen supply out of the site may not necessarily mean the H2 will be green, ie produced using electrolysis, or even made in Japan.

JFE first announced in 2022 that it would work with major local energy companies Jera and Eneos to develop a “hydrogen and ammonia receiving and supply base” at the former blast furnace site, with an eye to repurposing infrastructure such as deepwater wharves capable of docking large ships on the nearby Ogishima island.

This would indicate that rather than producing clean H2 domestically, the company will in fact import and redistribute volumes made overseas.

And while JFE is progressing a feasibility study to set up a “green ferrous material” supply chain with fellow Japanese firm Itochu, port operator Abu Dhabi Ports Group, and the UAE’s largest building materials company, Emirates Steel Arkan, this will actually involve direct iron reduction using fossil gas with carbon emissions captured and stored, rather than using H2.