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The steel industry has witnessed hegemony of large players, especially in the last decade or so. However, in addition to the oversupply of steel, changing global trade dynamics have significantly impacted the conventional supply-demand scenario of steel, including electrical steel. While the steel industry is witnessing an oversupply of low-cost steel, growing demand for electrical steel has led manufacturers to ramp up their production capacities. In particular, demand surge for cold rolled grain-oriented (CRGO) electrical steel is currently fulfilled by only a handful of Tier 1 players who have the capacity and technology for CRGO production. A 5x cost of electrical steel as compared to hot rolled coil steel used in car manufacturing and consumer durable explains the hegemony of Tier 1 players who hold half the global revenues in electrical steel marketplace.
Owing to the excellent isotropic magnetic properties, lower iron loss and multidirectional magnetization, demand for non-grain oriented electrical steel (NGOES) is likely to witness a surge on the back of growing adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles that consume a considerable amount of non-grain oriented electrical steel. Increasing interest of industry giants in auto electrification and exponential growth in the production of hybrid and electric vehicles will present a considerable demand for non-grain oriented electrical steel in the future.
Capacity Expansions of Grain Oriented Electrical Steel (GOES) Variants
Among the two types of commercially distributed electrical steel – non-grain and grain-oriented variants, demand for grain-oriented electrical steel is gaining significant momentum. An extensive application of grain-oriented electrical steel in the power industry, particularly in distribution transformers and power transformers can be attributed to the demand surge. The excellent anisotropic magnetic property of grain-oriented electrical steel to the rolling direction – perfectly serves the energy sector need of low power loss during efficient energy conversion. Identifying the considerable sales of GOES products within the category of most technologically advanced and highest-efficiency electrical steel, manufacturers are engaged in the expansion of GOES production capacities.
- In April 2018, ThyssenKrupp initiated production operation of grain-oriented electrical steel to meet the growing demand for the electrical steel variant in rapidly growing electricity demand in the country.
- AK Steel, the only provider of GOES products in the North America region and a significant exporter of grain-oriented electrical steel across the globe launched TRAN-COR® X – a new grain-oriented electrical steel product for high and ultra-high voltage power transformers in May 2018.
- In June 2018, Big River Steel, the leading steel producer and recycling specialist announced the investment of US$ 1.2 billion for the expansion of steel and electrical steel production facility. The investment is expected to explore possibilities in grain-oriented electrical steel production and a line of next-generation coating.
"Trade Disputes" to Spur Economies towards Strengthening Domestic Electrical Steel Production
Electrical steel markets in fast-growing economies have been import-oriented. Flooded with low-cost steel, exports from China dominated this supply chain, however, current trade disputes have spurred a courtship behavior across world economies to sustain their domestic steel industries. According to the World Steel Association data, approximately 17% of the global steel export is projected to witness diversion towards attractive steel markets.
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Influenced by steel tariffs, economies are carving their own ways of increasing domestic production of electrical steel. For instance, India to address its heavy reliance on the electrical steel market, have begun to expand the production capacity wherein German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp India announced the production of India’s first CRGO electrical steel. EU Commission also initiated a safeguard investigation with regard to concerns of steel imports.
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