A plan is underway to develop Britain’s largest low-carbon steel melting operation in Newport in South Wales.
The first step is to transform the existing 395mW Uskmouth power station in the town into a centre of excellence for advanced conversion technologies using biomass, waste and other sustainable energy sources in order to guarantee clean, cheap power for an adjacent electric arc furnace that will recycle domestic scrap and supply up to 20% of Britain’s entire steel market.
The Gupta Family Group (GFG), which embraces SIMEC and Liberty Steel, is the company behind the project. So far, GFG has invested in the acquisition and restart of the power station and Liberty’s 1Mt/yr rolling mill next door.
Liberty’s purchase of the mill has saved 250 jobs, but ultimately 4,000 jobs could be created if all goes to plan as SIMEC and Liberty are planning to expand the rolling mill and the power plant, which is currently reliant upon coal-fired power generation until such time as the facility is converted in to the aforementioned advanced conversion technologies centre of excellence.
Liberty has bought a 1.2Mt/yr steel-melting furnace with a view to increasing the scrap melting capacity of its Newport mill to 2Mt/yr – 20% of the UK market. According to the company, a lot depends upon the Government making energy prices competitive against other countries.
For SIMEC, the plan is to turn its Uskworth facility into a major power-generating facility powered by syngas (a zero emissions process based on waste conversion) and reliant upon ‘new and emerging technologies’ through its eNET programme.
Pending the conversion of the power station, SIMEC’s short-term plan is to rely upon coal-fired generation. The plant will power the Liberty Steel plant and wider industry needs via the electricity grid.
“Green steel, produced by recycling UK scrap using low-carbon energy generation methods, represents the future of the steel industry in Britain,” said Sanjeev Gupta, executive chair of Liberty House, part of the Gupta Family Group. “We are eager that these installations in Wales will form the heart of what will be a new, clean and profitable era for the sector.”