Liberty House and SIMEC have unveiled major plans to turn their adjacent Newport sites into a two million tonne a year green steel super-plant, powered by renewable energy.
It would be the first ‘GREENSTEEL’ facility in the UK and would play a major part in a renaissance of the struggling sector by meeting up to 20% of current steel needs.
Newport’s key role at the forefront of a green revolution in UK steel was outlined to the city’s elected representatives during a fact-finding visit to Liberty’s 1.2m tonne a year rolling mill and SIMEC’s adjacent 396 megawatt Uskmouth Power Station.
Both Newport MPs – Jessica Morden and Paul Flynn – and Assembly Members, John Griffiths and newly-elected Jayne Bryant, were briefed on how the plants will help realise the vision for a sustainable steel sector, powered by renewable energy.
They met top management of SIMEC and who explained how the UK’s changing energy policies will help achieve the dual objective of reducing carbon emissions, while making the UK steel sector competitive again.
Liberty executive chairman, Sanjeev Gupta explained how the firm intends to install 2m tonnes of liquid steel-making capacity at Newport and almost double the existing rolling capacity at the site.
At the same time, as part of its ‘GREENSTEEL’ strategy, SIMEC aims to power the steel plant by converting its existing coal-fired power-station to eco-friendly biomass generation.
Longer term, it will develop a centre of excellence for renewable energy that includes various forms of green power, including waste-to-energy and tidal lagoon power in the adjacent estuary.
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All of this can provide low-cost, low-carbon fuel sources to power a steel industry which in turn can be made more competitive and sustainable through recycling and upcycling of Britain’s growing mountain of scrap.
A recent University of Cambridge report predicted that the UK’s supply of scrap will rise from 10m to 20m tonnes a year within a decade. At present 70% of Britain’s scrap steel is melted abroad, because of high power prices, but melting at home instead would generate thousands of new jobs.
Following significant investments SIMEC reopened Uskmouth Power Station and Liberty restarted the adjacent steel rolling mill in 2015, both of which had been mothballed by previous owners.
At present the two sites employ more than 200 people with plans for many hundreds more when SIMEC rolls out its energy park plan and Liberty recommences the melting of scrap steel at Newport.
The Newport sites are part of the Liberty’s nationwide network employing a total of more than 1,500 people, which also includes steel making and engineering facilities in Tredegar, the West Midlands, and Scotland.