- In a step toward decarbonizing the emission-intensive steelmaking industry, Evraz North America is building the world’s largest solar-powered steel plant.
- A 300-megawatt solar farm will power Evraz’s Rocky Mountain Steel mill facility, using more than 750,000 solar panels on 1,800 acres south of Pueblo, Colorado. The Bighorn solar array is the largest onsite solar project for a single customer in the U.S. and the largest solar project east of the Rockies.
- More than 400 people are now employed in building the $500 million long rail mill, which is about 15% complete, and 400 more are expected to join the construction crew later this year, Colorado Public Radio reports. The general contractor on the project is Fargo, North Dakota-based Wanzek Construction, according to the Pueblo Chieftain.
Evraz, a Chicago-based engineered steel producer, partnered with Lightsource BP and Xcel Energy on the project, which began in 2019.
Lightsource BP is financing and building the $285 million solar array project and will sell the electricity generated to Xcel, Colorado’s largest utility, under a 20-year purchasing agreement. Evraz is Xcel’s largest retail customer in Colorado, and the solar farm will help the utility meet its goal of providing 55% renewable energy by 2026 and delivering 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.
“With its 20-year, fixed-rate structure, the project provides Evraz North America with predictable electricity prices and allows the mill, which employs about 1,000 workers, to stay in Pueblo and invest in its future,” according to Lightsource BP.
When finished, the farm will provide more than 90% of the mill’s power, abating 433,700 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or the equivalent of 92,100 fuel-burning cars, according to a case study. The mill will employ about 300 people and process more than 1 billion pounds of steel into tens of millions of feet of 100-meter-long rail sections, which will be welded into quarter-mile-long sticks for tracks around North America.
The state-of-the-art rail building will also include an electric arc furnace that melts and repurposes scrap steel, producing less carbon than a traditional blast furnace. Evraz North America CEO David Ferryman told the Pueblo Chieftain the mill will be “the most green steel facility in North America and maybe the world.” Evraz is replacing the current mill in Pueblo with the new state-of-the-art mill because “competition in the steel industry is fierce, particularly from Asia,” he added.
The steelmaking industry generates about 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions. This year, Evraz, one of the world’s largest vertically integrated steel and mining businesses, updated its environmental strategy with a goal of reducing its total atmospheric emissions from steel production by 33% by 2030.
“Colorado is making nation-leading strides to confront climate change, create new job opportunities, and innovate for the future, and the Evraz solar-powered steel mill is a great example,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement to Construction Dive. “We are delivering real results to Coloradans, and we are seeing this in Pueblo, where the mill is bringing over 300 good new jobs to Southern Colorado, making Pueblo the Steel City for the future.”