AK Steel launched a new family of high-permeability grain oriented electrical steel (GOES), which is specially designed for high- and ultrahigh-voltage transformers. The company disclosed that its new TRAN-COR X family of grain oriented electrical steel is a step improvement over its current TRAN-COR H steels. It is expected that the new grade steels will bring higher efficiencies in transformers.
Commodity Inside View: Efficiency and technical advancements are key for survival in the wake of stiffening energy efficiency standards in the US. Allegheny Technologies (ATI) which was also producing GOES, closed its production in October 2016, mainly due to the implementation of high energy efficiency standards by US department of energy. The standards only allowed the use of high permeability GOES in large power transformers and ATI was lagging behind in its technology.
We understand that AK Steel is currently the sole producer of grain oriented electrical steel in North America. Electrical steel market in the US suffered from imported materials and overcapacity elsewhere. Consequently, electrical steel prices remained under pressure which negatively impacted AK Steel but at the same time benefited end users.
In 2017, imports of GOES to the US increased by 92.3% year-on-year, reaching 75,000 tonnes, which made a very significant part of the total domestic demand. We expect that the 25% import tariffs are going to increase demand for domestically produced electrical steel which will benefit AK Steel. Simultaneously, the tariffs will increase the cost of production for transformers producers.
Commodity Inside understands that due to tough emission-related regulations, TRAN-COR X family is expected to be particularly benefited as it can assist in achieving higher levels of efficiency through energy loss control, resulting in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, there will also be renewed demand growth for GOES due to the emergence of smart grid stations, and deployment of electric vehicle charging stations infrastructure.
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