Vestas rolls out wind turbine towers made from low-emission steel

Leading wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has announced that it will now offer a wind turbine tower made from low-emission steel, “significantly” reducing the lifetime carbon dioxide emissions during production.

Vestas says it has signed a partnership with steel manufacturing company ArcelorMittal for the supply of low-emission steel.

The low-emission steel is produced using 100% steel scrap at ArcelorMittal’s steel mill, Industeel Charleroi, in Belgium, which in turn uses 100% wind energy to power its electric arc furnace.

The resulting slabs of steel are then transformed into heavy plates used for the manufacture of wind turbine towers at ArcelorMittal’s heavy plate mill in Gijón, Spain.

The low carbon-emissions heavy plate steel comes with an Environmental Production Declaration which has been certified by an independent third party, providing the complete environmental footprint of the product.

ArcelorMittal is the only steel producer to produce low-carbon emissions heavy plate steel in large dimensions, minimising the need for welding and associated carbon emissions.

Vestas and ArcelorMittal say that these steel plates can be used for the entirety of an onshore wind turbine tower, but only the top section of an offshore wind turbine tower.

By utilising low carbon-emissions steel in the top two sections of an offshore wind tower, carbon emissions are reduced by 25% compared to a tower made from conventionally produced steel.

For an onshore wind tower, the reduction in carbon emissions is up to 52%.

Given that steel and iron together constitute between 80% to 90% of a wind turbine’s material mass, and therefore approximately 50% of a turbine’s total lifecycle emissions, the use of renewable and recycled steel can potentially result in a massive overall reduction in emissions.

According to Vestas, this new partnership with ArcelorMittal will help Vestas achieve a 66% decrease in emission intensity per kilogram of steel.

“Finding ways to decarbonise the emissions produced during the raw material extraction and refinement of steel is vital for us and the industry in general,” said Dieter Dehoorne, head of global procurement at Vestas.

“Vestas sees the partnership with ArcelorMittal and the adoption of low-emission steel as a significant lever in reducing CO2 emissions within the wind industry.”

The first project to be undertaken using the new Vestas wind turbines using ArcelorMittal steel will be the 1.2GW Baltic Power Offshore Wind Project off the coast of Poland.

Construction is expected to get underway in 2025, and will consist of 76 wind turbines – 52 of which will use low-emission steel in the top section of the tower.

“The Baltic Power Offshore Wind Project stands as a solid example of this progress, having secured the first order and affirming the delivery of substantial value to our customers,” added Dehoorne.

Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.

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