Lightsource BP has commissioned its latest solar project, the 300MW Bighorn solar farm in Colorado, which will enable the neighbouring Evraz Pueblo steel plant to become the first to be largely powered by solar.
The new facility, which has begun generating and should reach full capacity in November, is built on land owned by the steel plant and is the largest on-site solar facility in the US dedicated to a single customer.
The Bighorn Solar project was financed and is owned and operated by Lightsource BP, which announced last month that it was aiming to increase the size of its global solar portfolio to 25GW by 2025.
The output is being sold to utility Xcel Energy through a 20-year power purchase agreement, and will in turn be delivered to the steel mill, avoiding nearly half a million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
“This project proves that even hard-to-abate sectors like steel can be decarbonized when companies come together with innovative solutions,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource BP in the Americas.
“It’s a great example of partners tackling complex issues that US industry is facing today, while at the same time preserving jobs in the manufacturing sector.”
Evraz, which employs 1,000 people at the plant, already recycles scrap metal to produce new steel products.
“As each new acre of solar panels is installed, we find ourselves closer to our goal of making Evraz in Pueblo one of the greenest steel facilities in the world,” said Skip Herald, the CEO of Evraz North America.
“The journey shows what can happen when like-minded companies come together and work across government and industry to promote cleaner energy, cleaner products and more resilient communities. This is an incredible milestone.”
The Bighorn Solar project will also serve as a biodiversity haven and carbon “sink,” with newly seeded prairie grasses to pull Co2 from the air into the soil.
Bighorn Solar takes #decarbonization to a new level. In addition to providing emissions-free energy for @evrazna and @XcelEnergyCO, the landscape will pull CO2 from the air into soil and prairie grasses on-site. #carbonsequestration #prairieconservation https://t.co/8i0cm2pcl0 pic.twitter.com/WH73TAHsPy
— Lightsource bp (@Lightsourcebp) October 7, 2021