Category | Steel

Steel for renewable energy

ArcelorMittal’s role in the South African renewable energy initiative In the renewable energy sector, ArcelorMittal is at the forefront with steel innovations that maximise capacity for power generation. Our steel products with specific mechanical properties are used in re-enforced foundations, solar structures and grid connections.

In this way ArcelorMittal South Africa is involved in the much vaunted South African solar energy project, steered by the Department of Energy. This project,which forms part of the Governments Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) of 3725 megawatt (MW) of renewable energy by 2016 and 17 800 MW by 2030, got off to small albeit promising start after the financial closure of phase one in November 2012. Included in the first round successful bids were 18 solar photovoltaic (PV), two concentrated solar power (CSP) and eight wind farm projects.

It is estimated that for the twenty solar projects totalling 732MW, some 70 000 tons of steel will be required. To increase the competiveness of local manufacturing, ArcelorMittal South Africa has offered to provide rebates to the value of R330 per ton of steel. In total the discount could amount to
R20 million for the benefit of the downstream industries in the project. Similar discounts were offered for wind projects to ensure the use of local steel.

Jan Kotze, Project Manager, Plate and Renewable Energy Projects explains, “Since the commencement of phase one, ArcelorMittal’s sales and marketing department took initial orders of 22 000 tons, with an expectation that this will grow to as much as 60 000 tons per annum by the end of 2013. ArcelorMittal South Africa also predicts that the project will provide thousands of jobs during the manufacturing, construction and operational phases thus contributing significantly towards reducing unemployment in the long term for underprivileged South Africans.”

According to Kobus de Beer, Industry development Executive, SAISC “100 ‘decent’ jobs are created per 1000 tons of structural steel products produced – that is full time jobs paid for in accordance with national agreements for one year. This includes direct, indirect and induced real jobs to fabricate structural steel products but excludes the construction work.”

In order to maximise ArcelorMittal’s involvement in these projects, discussions with several international and local companies have been on-going since the design stage of some projects. This lead to the development of some new products and the extension of existing product ranges. Also due to the tight timelines and huge penalties coupled to these solar projects, special attention has been given during the production phases. The solar energy project aims to maximise capacity and improve power generation, while maintaining energy efficiency requirements for all South Africans over the next few years. The main objective of governments Integrated Resource Plan is to reduce carbon emissions, decrease water consumption, localise job creation opportunities, and improve security of energy supply for all South Africans.

According to an article published on the South African Department of Energy’s website, South Africa is regarded as an ideal location to roll out solar energy projects as most areas in the country received more than 2 500 hours of sunshine per year with an average of radiation levels ranging between 4.5 and 6.5kWh/m2 in one day. In addition, solar radiation in South Africa over a 24 hour period reaches approximately 220 W/m2 as compared to 150 W/m2 for Europe, USA and the United Kingdom.

Financial closure of phase two of the solar energy project is expected to take place during May 2013, where a tender is expected to be awarded to the successful bidder. The 1450 Megawatts will be sufficient to provide solar power to 100 000 medium sized households, decreasing the dependence on fossil fuel powered energy.

Jan concludes, “This initiative is in keeping with ArcelorMittal South Africa’s ethos of providing rebates to downstream industries on other products manufactured.”