Pueblo steel mill is the world’s first to run almost entirely off solar energy

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PUEBLO, Colo. — Pueblo is leading the charge for clean energy. The city is now home to the world’s first steel mill running almost completely on solar energy. Lightsource BP launched the Bighorn Solar project on Wednesday.

The Bighorn Solar project spans across 1,800 acres at EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel in Pueblo.

This steel mill was chosen because of the high carbon emission rates it releases. And within two months, this project will lower CO2 emissions to the equivalent of getting 92,000 gas burning cars off the road each year.

The steel mill is moving away from coal burning and harnessing the power of the sun to make sustainable steel instead.

“And today we power that off the traditional electric grid, which creates emissions. With this solar facility, we will produce some of the cleanest steel, not only in the US, but in the world right now,” said Skip Herald, CEO of Evraz North America.

EVRAZ already uses recycled scrap metal to make new steel. Now they’re leaving an even greener footprint.

“In terms of traditional steel making and the way we produce steel with our furnaces, this is 75% cleaner than the other steel making processes in the country,” said Herald.

Lightsource BP is collaborating with EVRAZ and Xcel Energy on this project.

“There’s over 400 thousand tons per minute of CO2 with coal burning facility to support the plant like this EVRAZ facility,” said David Lawler, President of BP America.

This project will lower CO2 emissions by more than 430,000 metric tons.

“Lightsource BP has installed 300 MW of low carbon renewable electricity that will power the steel mill behind us, recycling about a million tons of steel per year, and supporting 1,000 family wage jobs right here in Pueblo,” said Lawler.

The steel mill will be powered by 750,000 solar panels that sit next to the facility.

“This is a steel mill has been in existence for 150 years and typically has high emissions. We expect the solar facility to supply the energy for about 90% of the needs of the facility,” said Lawler.

“Our plans with the state are to double the amount of renewable energy over the next 8 years. And by 2030 we’re going to be 80% renewable in the state of Colorado,” said Bob Frenzel, President of Xcel Energy.

And this southern Colorado solar project is helping Xcel Energy achieve that statewide goal.

“Five generations have worked here and hopefully another five can thanks to the things we’re doing here today,” said Herald.

The Bighorn Solar project is currently generating electricity into the grid and is expected to come fully online in November. 

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