TWO mothballed steel plants in Scotland are set to reopen this year making steel plate for wind farms as new owner Liberty House seeks to revitalise UK steel by supplying the renewables sector.
The steel plate mills in Dalzell and Clydebridge were bought by Liberty House after they were closed by Tata Steel last year. They began recruiting workers earlier this month and expect the plants to restart production in September making heavy-duty steel plate for wind turbine towers.
The move is part of Liberty House’s wider ‘Greensteel’ strategy that it says will lead to an industrial renaissance, saving the sector and boosting jobs. The plan has three key elements that include investing in electric arc furnaces alongside existing blast furnaces so the UK can begin recycling its own steel; investing in low cost, long-term renewable power close to steel plants; and investing in engineering companies that use its steel to produce advanced components for UK-based growth industries, including renewable power.
The steel plate produced by Liberty House’s newly reopened plants will supply a new turbine manufacturing centre planned by the company, which will house turbine tower production equipment bought from a renewables business that closed in South Wales last year. The company expects to announce the location of its new manufacturing centre in the coming weeks.
The equipment Liberty House has bought makes wind turbine towers up to 56 m tall and 5 m in diameter for onshore wind installations, and it has plans to upgrade production to make 110 m x 10 m towers for the growing offshore market. It also plans to make towers and cross-sections for the UK’s new design T-pylons as well as turbine casings for Tidal Power Lagoon, the company behind Swansea’s tidal lagoon energy project in which Liberty House’s sister company SIMEC is an investor.
Liberty House chairman Sanjeev Gupta said that integrating steel production and the manufacturing supply chain will create a robust industrial eco-system that in this case will compete against tower suppliers chiefly from outside the country as UK demand for offshore towers grows rapidly.
“It is particularly appropriate that this new business will supply the renewable energy market in view of our own Greensteel strategy, which involves investing in green energy as the basis of a competitive UK steel and engineering industry,” Gupta said.
With thousands of jobs lost in the steel sector in recent years, and 10,000 more at risk as Tata seeks a rapid sale of its UK assets, Gupta warned earlier this month as he announced his Greensteel plan that continuing the status quo will lead inevitably to the UK steel sector’s demise.
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