This Wednesday, solar joint-venture Lightsource BP, along with electricity provider Xcel energy and steel company EVRAZ North America, celebrated the dedication of its new 300-megawatt Bighorn Solar project. It will be used to power EVRAZ’s Pueblo, Colorado steel mill — the world’s first steel mill to be powered largely by solar energy.
The location of the project is EVRAZ’s 1,800-acre Rocky Mountain Steel property in Pueblo. Comprising more than 750,000 solar panels, the project constitutes the largest on-site solar facility in the US dedicated to a single customer and will provide nearly all of the plant’s annual electricity demand, according to BP. EVRAZ already recycles scrap metal to produce new steel products, including some of the greenest rail in the world. Its latest effort marks another step in its sustainability efforts and is expected to abate more than 433,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year — the equivalent of removing 92,100 fuel-burning cars from the road.
Lightsource BP financed the project along with investment partners in the amount of $285 million. It also oversaw construction and owns and operates the facility. Xcel Energy is contracted to purchase its electricity under a 20-year power purchase agreement. Xcel will then deliver the electricity to EVRAZ at guaranteed price points through 2041.
The project, announced in 2019, is already generating solar-powered electricity, and is expected to reach full capacity by November. Commenting on the partnership, BP noted,
“The deal for fixed-rate power gives EVRAZ the low, predictable electricity prices it needs to stay in Pueblo and invest in its future there, keeping more than 1,000 jobs in the local community.”
Steel, the world’s most commonly used metal, is responsible for between 7% and 9% of global emissions, being involved in everything from skyscrapers and bridges to cars, cruise ships, guns, and washing machines. It is a difficult industry to decarbonize due to its manufacturing requirement of high-density fuel. Energy-dense green hydrogen is considered the most viable solution, with the world’s first hydrogen-powered steel mill coming online in Sweden last year.
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