Gupta plans to take Sydney, Melbourne steel plants 100% renewable | RenewEconomy

Gupta plans to take Sydney, Melbourne steel plants 100% renewable

Gupta says bigger steel plants in Sydney and Melbourne will go 100% renewable, and there is no reason why an aluminium smelter could not follow.

Sanjeev Gupta: Supplied by company.


Sanjeev Gupta: Supplied by company.
Sanjeev Gupta: Supplied by company.

UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta says the Whyalla steel works will not be the only asset that will be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy: he intends the bigger steel plants in Melbourne and Sydney to follow suit within years.

Gupta on Monday announced plans to build 1GW of solar and storage in and around Whyalla to turn the steelworks in the city “green with energy”. The mix includes large scale solar, pumped hydro, battery storage, and demand management.

But Gupta says his plans will not end there, and his Liberty OneSteel group is looking to renewables to power the company’s Sydney and Melbourne-based electric arc furnaces, which are much heavier users of energy.

“The Whyalla steel works do not have an enormous energy requirement. Our plants in Sydney and Melbourne are very, very heavy users and we’re hoping that all of it will be supplied by renewables,” Gupta told ABC Radio National in an interview.

He said that transition was likely to take a “few years”, and the company may initially use coal to “firm” the use of of wind or solar. But the intention was to move quickly to a full renewable energy supply, particularly as firming costs continue to fall.

The company says its investment in solar and storage and its shift to becoming largely its own supplier could slash its energy bill by around 40 per cent. That’s mostly because his current bill is ridiculously high. “To beat these prices is not difficult,” Gupta told the ABC.

Gupta’s now majority owned Zen Energy is expecting the 1,000MW of solar, battery storage and pumped hydro to be built around Whyalla will service other major energy users in South Australia.

He said it could, contrary to the warnings of former prime minister Tony Abbott, make Whyalla a centre of cheap green energy.

Gupta’s comments go completely against the view of the Australian Coalition government, which has long argued that heavy industry cannot be powered by renewables. Gupta intends to show they can, and for a much cheaper cost that will continue to decline.

He also insists that even bigger energy users, such as aluminium smelters, can be powered by renewable energy. He declined to comment on speculation that he was looking to buy the aluminium smelting business of Rio Tinto.

“Large aluminium smelters can be powered by renewables …. and Whyalla can be become a clean energy park and a centre of industrial activity,” he said.

He said it was no longer true to say that coal provided the cheapest source of power to large energy consumers. “That was possibly true not long aago. We are fast moving to a situation where balanced renewables are able to compete with fossil fuels.”

The starting point, however, was the need to not just look at prices, but also have a plan to reduce emissions.

“Right now (the share of) solar is very small – single digits,” Gupta said. (Actually, in terms of large-scale solar it is a fraction of one per cent in Australia, although many new plants are being built). “This transition is a long transition …. now is not the time to quit.”





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  1. Joe 3 years ago

    So here we are in Australia with the Elon and the Sanjeev going full tilt using RE and making every post a winner. I don’t hear any opposition from the man in the street, it is only Rupert’s newsrags and The COALition that are upset by the Elon and Sanjeev show. Then we have Adani….I don’t need to say anymore.

    • Roger Franklin 3 years ago

      Joe – Add to that the Federal Opposition have been very quiet too. Seems most of the Canberra FIFO crew are been quite effectively worked around. The result of the Queensland Election will be an interesting.

      • Andrew Roydhouse 3 years ago

        Since both sides of politics receive tens of millions in donations each year – the country is effectively run by those who pay their bills.

        The payoff for donations, coincidental of course, seems to be between 50 to 100x the donation.

        Nice work if you can get it.

        Interesting study done by The Greens (who will not take donations from a company but will take them from the company’s owner = any difference?) on donations from the toll road financiers, builders and associated consultants told a very “coincidental story” indeed.

        • Roger Franklin 3 years ago

          Andrew – I think you have hit the nail on the head.

  2. BushAxe 3 years ago

    Heavy industry takes it’s energy future into its own hands while governments continue to bicker over policy.

    • trackdaze 3 years ago

      Same goes for households.

  3. brucelee 3 years ago

    Why aren’t labour talking about this in parliament!

    • Hettie 3 years ago

      ALP is up to its neck in coal miney too, but at least are committed to emissions reduction.

  4. Hettie 3 years ago

    The idiot pollies seem unable to connect the dots between high power prices and the loss of Australia’s manufacturing industries.
    Yes, high wages have contributed too, but energy costs are way too high.
    Do not expect this vivid demonstration of the capabilities of RE to affect their corruptly driven idiology.
    The mere thought of examining evidence brings on nervous collapse.
    Well, tough. Businesses as well as householders are deserting the grid in droves, and those who can’t yet afford batteries are getting oversized systems to cut their power bills to the bare minimum.
    Might as well try to hold back the tide.

    • Andrew Roydhouse 3 years ago

      Sorry but I think you may be the one missing the point unfortunately.

      The pollies know exactly how to join the dots they’re given by their donors. Whatever it takes to keep their snouts in the trough.

      If you look at exactly how many registered paid party officials there are – and divide that by the $25M + in ‘declared’ donations each year – that is good money. Even more interesting is comparing that income to the declared spending. 1 and 1 should make 2 shouldn’t it?

      Perfect example of self (or donor?) interest – the shock announcement by the President of the Senate days after the High Court decision. He knew he was in exactly the same position as several others but chose not to reveal it until then.

      I wonder who he had spoken to? Odd, is it not that we have not heard the ALP asking that question in public (yet?)

    • Joe 3 years ago

      Hello Young Hettie. It is the lack of serious will by Federal Government that sees droves of punters installing solar and now home batteries. Yes, it is wonderful to see but it is an indictment of Government. Households are going RE but our Fed Govt. wants to stay the course with FF…it is criminal.

  5. Guy Stewart 3 years ago

    Sanjeev Gupta is clearly a successful business man. I wonder how long before he gets his lobbyists into place and political donations to sorted and we can see some good news and support of his projects from the federal government.
    Unlike a wholesaler of electricity, an industrial energy consumer (can be 10% of total demand) is able to avoid some of the interference that the gov runs with renewable investment incentives and the NEM. They are their own market, and LGCs are not required to make the business case.

    I do appreciate the bold, and unequivocal statements made by Mr Gupta, the gov stance seems to be ignore and hope he goes away, instead he is ramping up.

    Naysaying renewables works better when someone isn’t literally doing what they are saying is impossible right there.

    Giles, given your recent award, perhaps you could do a bit of a ring around Canberra for comment and see if we can get some sense of how the gov feels about this resurgence in metals processing investment in Australia.

  6. Ken Fabian 3 years ago

    Heavy industry taking more control of – making, managing, using and selling excess of their own energy makes a lot of sense. Some processes might be made more flexible – able to ramp up during sunny days, or process larger batches during a predicted series of sunny days with some storage or windy periods.

    I think businesses will discover what home owners are discovering about solar and storage – that it works, it’s reliable even during power outages and it saves money.

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