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Materials Energy

350: Steel production using solar power

Problem:

The iron and steel sector is the “world’s largest industrial source of climate pollution,” according to the Cold Steel Hot Climate report, which notes that steel represented approximately 5% of final energy use and 7% of emissions worldwide in 2013.

Recent studies have found that 14% of steel firms’ market value is in jeopardy if they are unable to decrease their environmental impact.

Solution:

The first steel mill to be powered by sustainable energy is EVRAZ North America’s 240-MW Bighorn Solar Project at its Rocky Mountain operation in Pueblo, Colorado. USA. Xcel Energy, as the power provider for the steel mill, will purchase the power generated by the solar farm under a long-term contract with Lightsource bp. The solar facility will be located on on 1,600 acres of land at the steel mill.

McCarthy Building Companies was selected by Lightsource bp as EPC — installing nearly 750,000 Canadian Solar bifacial solar panels, mounted on trackers from Nextracker. Commercial operation is expected by late 2021

While the mill operates 24 hours a day, solar panels do not. Over the course of a year the solar farm is expected to produce electricity roughly equal to 95% of the mill’s annual demand. On sunny days, excess power will be sold to the Colorado grid, but at night the mill will draw power from the grid, which still includes a good bit of fossil energy.

Luckily, about the time solar panels are going dark, strong winds whip up across the plains of eastern Colorado, where wind turbines will turn it into power. At certain hours during the night, wind farms can supply as much as 70% of the power on the state grid, and that is likely to be true more and more often as the company signs contracts with new wind farms.

Discover Solution 351: PVF (Photovoltaic Fishery)

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