A new 30-megawatt generator at Tata Steel’s Port Talbot site in South Wales will reduce its energy bill by millions of pounds every year, at a time when energy prices are rocketing.
At the same time the huge generator brings environmental benefits as more process gases from the blast furnaces, steelmaking plant and coke ovens can be converted into useful energy – reducing emissions from external power generation by more than 40,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
As part of a wider £37 million investment of the site’s power station, the generator has been installed in a new turbine hall. The project also included creating a new landscaped area which has been planted with Kidney Vetch – the main food source of the UK’s smallest resident butterfly, the Small Blue.
Tata Steel’s Project Manager, Guy Simms, said: “Our on-site power plant uses process gases to heat water into steam, which then drives a turbine - like a propellor. This, in turn, drives an electrical rotor to generate our own electricity.
“We have a number of these ‘turbo-alternators’ but not enough to use all the steam we can create.
“This latest addition, energy, however, will make a step-change to our energy-generation capacity. We’ve been hot commissioning the plant, and have run it up to its capacity of 30 megawatts.”
And Guy explained there are environmental benefits, too. “Without this generator, we’d not only be forced to flare – burn off – our excess process gases, we’d also be buying more electricity from the national grid. The UK still uses a substantial amount of fossil fuel for its electricity generation,” he said.
“So this investment effectively reduces our offsite carbon footprint by 30MW worth of electricity generation which equates to about 120 tonnes of CO2 a day or 43,800 tonnes of CO2 a year.”
He concluded: “It has been a gargantuan effort from all the employees and contractor partners involved. And while there have been some setbacks along the way – not least with the pandemic – when you consider the payback from such a big project could be less than a year, all that hard work will be worthwhile.”
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About Tata Steel’s European operations
Tata Steel is one of Europe's leading steel producers, with steelmaking in the Netherlands and the UK, and manufacturing plants across Europe. The company supplies high-quality steel products to the most demanding markets, including construction and infrastructure, automotive, packaging and engineering. Tata Steel works with customers to develop new steel products which give them a competitive edge. The Tata Steel group is among the top global steel companies with an annual crude steel capacity of 34 million tonnes. It is one of the world's most geographically-diversified steel producers, with operations and a commercial presence across the world. The group recorded a consolidated turnover of US $21.06 billion in the financial year ending 31 March, 2021.