Laverton Steelworks to run on solar power as Sanjeev Gupta strikes energy deal

Gupta's $1.3 billion renewable energyGreen light for GFC/SIMEC's Cultana solar farm in South Australia

British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has signed a deal that will see Victoria’s Laverton Steelworks in Melbourne’s western suburbs using solar power. The Laverton solar power deal has been described as a game-changer.

Mr Gupta, Executive Chairman of GFG Alliance, recently acquired the steel works at Laverton. Yesterday, he signed a deal with French renewable energy Neoen.

The 15-year agreement will see GFG’s energy company Simec Zen drawing on solar power from Neoen’s solar farm at Numurkah to power the steelworks.

Collaboration on global renewable energy solutions

Both GFG and Neoen are global producers of renewable energy. This includes wind, hydro and solar power and lithium-ion battery storage.

Neoen CEO Xavier Barbaro said the agreement is a game-changer that reflects a “shared commitment to deliver low-cost, sustainable energy solutions”. Mr Gupta referred to it as an “exciting opportunity” for the companies to find even greater global renewable energy solutions.

Laverton solar power deal signed

Xavier Barbaro and Sanjeev Gupta shake on their 15-year agreement.

GFG also operates what is known as a ‘Greensteel’ model. Greensteel focuses on recycling scrap metal and powering furnaces with renewable energy.

The strategy aims to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint and create a sustainable and competitive metal manufacturing sector. Mr Gupta expects the shift to renewable energy for the steel works will set it on a path towards Greensteel standards.

Laverton solar power deal similar to that for Whyalla

Mr Gupta has already invested in the steelworks at Whyalla in South Australia which he also intends to operate on solar. He also recently offered to buy Adelaide’s defunct Holden plant, in order to build electric cars. After assessing the bid, however, General Motors declined the offer.

Battery storage central to energy reliability

Central to this approach of using solar in industry is the use of battery storage. Neoen currently owns the largest lithium-ion Telsa Powerpack battery in the world at the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia. The Powerpack can dispatch power very quickly when required, ensuring reliability of supply.

Simec Zen Energy has also announced plans to build a commercial-scale 120 MW battery at Port Augusta. This will form part of the company’s long-term 1 GW renewable energy and storage plan.

In addition to industrial applications, solar batteries can also offer benefits for households and small businesses with solar panels, by optimising energy.