Expert Interview
Franz Androsch, Head of Group Research voestalpine Group

Foto: voestalpine AG
Photo: voestalpine AG

voestalpine is not only a technological leader as regards upmarket steel products, but is also among the front runners in its field as regards energy efficiency and environmental impact. What part do energy-intensive industries play in shaping a sustainable future?

voestalpine contribute significantly to sustainability via their products and materials. High-strength steels for lightweight vehicles or laminated electrical strip cores for ultra-efficient electric motors are just two examples. The processes involved in the steel industry make it one of the largest energy consumers and emitters of carbon dioxide. That’s why we are working hard on new, sustainable strategies in collaboration with the energy industry, and thus contributing to long-term solutions. The most promising development paths are switching from fossil sources of energy such as coal to electricity or hydrogen from renewables, and improving energy efficiency further – though, given the state of the art, there are only limited possibilities here. However, both routes involve completely restructuring our existing fossil energy system.

The Group invests a great deal in research and development, including resource-efficient production processes. Which research topics and technologies are currently the centre of attention?

The current research budget is at a record level of 159 million Euro, proving that research, development and innovation enjoy top priority within the voestalpine Group. Innovation is largely concerned with developing production processes further in the direction of digitalization. We focus on new technologies along the value creation chain, and developing products, components and entire system solutions for the markets with the highest standards of technology and quality, the transport and energy sector.

What is the significance of research and innovation for Austria as an economy?

R&D and innovation ensure the companies’ survival, and thus a large number of jobs. For a highly developed country with high wages such as Austria, innovation is essential to secure our high standard of living and the ongoing development of our society.