Plans were unveiled today (Thursday 17th March) for a renewable energy hub on the South Wales coastline, designed to underpin the creation of Britain’s largest low-carbon steel melting operation and generate thousands of jobs.
The plan, involves turning the existing 395 megawatt Uskmouth Power Station Newport into a centre of excellence for Advanced Conversion Technologies, using biomass, waste and other innovative and sustainable energy sources to guarantee clean, cheap power for a neighbouring arc furnace recycling domestic scrap to supply up to 20% of Britain’s entire steel market.
The blueprint to make Newport an international leader for ‘green steel’ was outlined today by the Gupta Family Group, during a visit to Uskmouth by Economy Minister, Edwina Hart, to formally restart the second of three power-generating units mothballed by former owners. The unit has a capacity of 120 Megawatts.
The use of coal-fired generation capacity at the plant is a short-term measure pending the conversation of the station itself and the surrounding land into a renewable energy park, capable of powering the neighbouring Liberty Steel plant and wider industry needs via the electricity grid.
However the Group explained that the speed at which the ambitious plans progress will depend on UK government support for renewable energy projects. This is under review at the moment.
To date Gupta Family companies, SIMEC and Liberty House, have invested in the acquisition and restart of Uskmouth Power Station and Liberty’s 1m tonne a year steel rolling mill next door, saving more than 250 jobs. But they are eager to expand both facilities, potentially creating more than 4,000 jobs directly and in the regional supply chain.
Liberty Steel recently purchased a 1.2m tonne a year steel melting furnace with the intention of installing it at Newport where it wants eventually to bring scrap-melting capacity up to two million tonnes a year; 20% of the UK market. This plan depends largely on UK Government support to make energy prices competitive against other countries.
SIMEC’s strategy for Uskmouth centres on the creation of major power-generating capacity based on Advanced Conversion Technology, that turns waste into syngas – a virtually zero emission process. This is in addition to biomass generation and tidal lagoon power from the neighbouring Severn Estuary. Later this year the company hopes to begin thermo dynamic cracking at the site, converting auto-waste into energy.
Moreover, under its eNET programme, SIMEC aims to invest in the development and exploitation of ‘New and Emerging Technologies’ for various other green power generation initiatives.
Speaking on behalf of the Group, Liberty House Executive Chair Sanjeev Gupta said: “Green steel, produced by recycling UK scrap using low-carbon energy generation methods, represents the future of the steel industry in Britain. 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.”
He added: “We are in discussion with the UK government to ensure that those, like us, who are investing to create renewable energy capacity, can rely on support to give them stable markets at sustainable prices for the power they generate.”
He was hopeful, he said, that the Government would help protect steel jobs by continuing to work on ways of reducing the impact of carbon tax and green levies on intensive energy users in industry.
Economy Minister Mrs Hart joined Mr Gupta in a ceremony to mark the restart of the second unit at the power plant. This involved lighting a flame and unveiling a Rangoli traditional Indian artwork depicting Uskmouth in the foyer of the building.
Mrs Hart said: “Welsh Government has been firm and consistent in its support for a low- carbon economy and it is heartening to see businesses eager to invest in a project that creates large numbers of jobs based on sustainable energy.”
Further information from Eoghan Mortell/Jess Beeken 029 2045 5182 or 07977 555116