More than a year after the announcement was first made of Nucor Steel coming to Sedalia, Nucor Sedalia has filed a 75 megawatt power purchase agreement with Evergy to power its plant using wind energy.
The Nucor Sedalia micromill will be the first steel production plant in the United States to run on wind energy, according to Evergy. Vice President and General Manager of Nucor Sedalia Kevin Van de Ven said the source of energy “played a part” in Nucor’s decision to come to Sedalia. As North America’s largest recycler, having a renewable energy source was important.
“The reason we located this mill in this region of the county was primarily because there was a demand for our product that we could service locally,” he explained. “There was also raw material, which in our case is scrap, that was available. Then finally we also had to have a reliable, efficient, cost-effective source of energy.
“As North America’s largest recycler we’re constantly looking for ways to increase energy efficiency and reduce our environmental impact. We are very pleased that our power provider is going to be able to use wind energy to supply the grid that will provide power to our mill,” he continued.
Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County Executive Director Jessica Craig was also excited about the agreement, saying it “helps increase the visibility that power may actually be cost-effective if used and sourced in the right fashion.”
“I think it’s interesting that often times people have preconceived ideas about the steel industry, especially steel mills. That they are not clean operations,” she said. “Nucor specifically, they are the largest recycler in the United States so automatically they are a very green company. This takes it to the next level in that their carbon print will be reduced because of the great work by Evergy in developing the renewable wind power source for the facility.”
Being the first steel production plant in the United States to run on wind energy is not Nucor’s only example of being a leader in reducing environmental impacts. In the 1970s, Nucor was a leader in commercializing the use of electric arc furnaces to make steel.
“An electric arc furnace is different from the old blast furnaces where you would mine for iron,” Van de Ven said. “An electric arc furnace primarily uses scrap and Nucor was a pioneer in commercializing the use of them. It really changed the way that steel was being made in the United States. More and more people are using electric arc furnaces now.”
Today, Nucor uses 100% scrap steel to make its products.
“It’s kind of neat that things that could possibly be going to a landfill or shipping out of the region to mills, where you’re going to use fossil fuels to ship the product a long way, are going to come here and be recycled into rebar,” Van De Ven explained.
“It is used in construction projects. So if you think about it, we’ll use recycled material, energy provided by our providers which is going to use renewable energy to support our power demand. We’ll have Missouri steelworkers make the product and we’ll use this product to rebuild Missouri and other Midwestern states’ infrastructure.”
The Sedalia site is also full of things that reduce the impact of the steel mill on the environment, according to Van de Ven. It is a micro-mill, meaning its footprint is “very small” compared to traditional steel mills. It also features technologies that are used throughout the mill to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use. Van de Ven said Nucor is constantly looking for ways to improve.
“Our goal here at Nucor still today and across all Nucor sites is to continue to look for ways to increase our energy efficiency,” he said.