Tata Steel and sustainable energy developer Pure Energie plan to create one of the world’s largest solar energy projects in the Netherlands.

The global steelmaker will mount 80,000 solar panels on the roofs of its IJmuiden steelworks – an area equivalent to 40 football pitches.

The solar project will have a 22mW capacity and will generate enough energy to power approximately 7,000 homes.

“This project will further minimise our carbon footprint. Since 1990 we have reduced the amount of energy needed to produce steel by more than 30% at our IJmuiden site, which is already one of the world’s most energy-efficient steel plants,” said Hans Fischer, chief technical officer of Tata Steel’s European operations.

Tata Power Solar will supply the solar panels and Pure Energie will fund the development of the project. The energy generated will be used in steel manufacturing processes and the system will take two years to install, starting in Spring 2016 and covering an area of 25 hectares.

Pure Energie specialises in sustainable wind and solar energy projects and has been named the greenest energy company in the Netherlands.

“Tata Steel engineers are continuously developing innovative processes to streamline production and we are developing advanced steel products for customers to help them create a more sustainable society,” Fischer added.

Tata Steel produces advanced automotive steel grades and is developing HIsarna, a new technology with the potential to make iron using less energy and reduced CO2 emissions. A prolonged six-month test campaign at the HIsarna pilot plant at Tata Steel’s IJmuiden site is scheduled for the latter half of 2016.