Canada steelworks investing in greener energy projects

Written by by Jason Morris, CNN

Steelworks across Canada are making progress toward harnessing renewable energy as political leaders try to distance themselves from the country’s reliance on coal, which once supplied a third of the nation’s power.

They’re also seeking to cash in on the trend toward greener technologies, particularly as Canada prepares to introduce further measures to curb emissions.

By 2030, one in every three power-generating jobs in Canada must be replaced, said the government in 2017. That’s four times the current level.

Only 30% of Canadian power can be generated with coal, compared to about 40% around the world, according to Canadian energy and environment ministry official Audrey Giles.

She added that at the same time, Canada, “must find jobs and new industries to create the economic benefits we need.”

But many are opting to source more renewable energy.

Canada’s new carbon tax has prompted change for the Crown Corporation.

“There’s just a piece of our business that’s definitely impacted by the carbon price,” said Kevin Brown, vice president at Menlo Steel, referring to measures introduced in July which will see the price of emitting one metric ton of carbon rise to C$20 ($15) in January 2020, from about C$10 now.

One of the changes means Menlo Steel’s facilities now require a 1,000 kilowatt solar photovoltaic array for some of their employees.

“It’s a project that took us about six months and cost around C$250,000 ($185,000) to put it all in place,” Brown said.

The electricity runs on scrap copper from the company’s facilities in Regina and Saskatoon, and diesel from its truck fleet.

Indeed, Canada’s Crown Corporation, formerly known as the Ontario Power Authority, believes more activity will be sparked by its latest announcement that it will further integrate renewables into its supply chain by connecting 10 of its facilities to a 1-megawatt solar array.

Menlo Steel’s manufacturing and servicing of steel on the outskirts of Regina was originally organized around just this kind of practice, but is now integrated with other parts of the nation’s downstream energy system, including the national grid.

“Our first location was sort of a truck operation that made product and sold it back to our organization,” said Brian Rolen, the corporation’s vice president of renewable energy, operations and automation.

The third stage of the plan will see Menlo Steel build on its experience and create its own solar installation.

“We need to do that to see if that’s a way to support the business long term, and see if we can actually become a customer of renewable energy,” Rolen said.

Menlo Steel’s funding of projects in Regina and Saskatoon far outstrips other companies.

“We have 10 facilities out of over 500 we have in the country,” Rolen said. “Our contribution as a country is really understated.”

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