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Steel Plants Welcome Renewable Energy

Thursday, December 12, 2019

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Though the steel industry is known for contributing a significant amount to the world’s carbon footprint—amounting to between 6-7%—companies have recently made moves toward the development of plants powered by renewable energy.

A Nucor steel microplant, located in Sedalia, Missouri, is set to reportedly be the first U.S. steel plant to run on energy from wind, according to CNBC. A recycled steel plant in Pueblo, Colorado, operated by EVRAZ, is also moving to transition from coal to solar.

Steel Plant Renewable Energy

While also serving as a significant step for the steel industry, the $250 million steel plant in Sedalia is also emblematic of economic opportunity in the Midwest. As Utility Evergy Senior Vice President Chuck Caisley told CNBC, they “sit in the Saudi Arabia of wind.”

photlurg / Getty Images

Though the steel industry is known for contributing a significant amount to the world’s carbon footprint—amounting to between 6-7%--companies have recently made moves toward the development of plants powered by renewable energy.

Nucor’s new plant, slated to open by the end of the year, was created in partnership between the company and Evergy. The power purchase agreement will cover 75 megawatts of energy. Though plans for the plant did not originally consider wind as a potential source of power, competitive pricing, as well as Nucor’s concerns with sustainability, was a draw for the company to establish their plant in Missouri over other states, Caisley noted. Additionally, a state law allows utilities offer a discount on electricity for aluminum and steel companies if a purchase of energy is made in bulk.

Nucor’s new plant will employ more than 250 people. The mill itself will use high-efficiency electric arc furnaces to melt recycled scrap, and the material will then be converted to steel rebar, which will in turn will be used in region construction. As a result of the deal, Nucor will be Evergy's largest customer in the state.

According to CNBC, entry-level positions at the plant will start at $65,000 a year, in contrast with normal area starting wages starting between $35,000-40,000 a year.

As for the Pueblo, Colorado, plant, Xcel Energy struck an agreement with Europe solar developer Lightsource BP, which is half owned by BP and steelmaker EVRAZ North America. In this endeavor, a $250 million, 240-megawatt solar power facility, also in Pueblo, will power the new steel facility.  In its business, EVRAZ produces steel for rail, pipes and wire rod.

Back in November, United States Steel announced that it would be aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2030.

Thomas Koch Blank, Senior Principal for Rocky Mountain Institute, told CNBC that sustainable options in steel production could help reduce the carbon footprint, but if industry members “can’t decarbonize steelmaking, you’re still going to have 5% of carbon emissions coming from steel.”

   

Tagged categories: Business operations; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Solar energy; Steel; Wind Farm

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