The South African branch of multinational steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal has plans to increase its presence in the wind energy sector by expanding production of the heavy plates needed for wind towers, reports Cape Business News.

The company has been supplying structural steel for wind towers and concrete-reinforcing bars for foundations over the past few years but is now in the process of finalising the upgrade of its Plate Mill to produce plates of up to 11 tonnes of steel.

This upgrade is planned for the fourth quarter of 2014 and the production of heavier plates will begin from January 2015.

Deals within wind sector

ArcelorMittal South Africa hopes to supply all the tower manufacturing facilities in South Africa, according to Jan Kotzé, product manager for Plate & Renewable Energy Projects at ArcelorMittal South Africa. He said: “We are undergoing discussions with some of the major international wind tower makers like Nordex, Siemens and Vestas to supply steel for more wind farms in rounds two and three of [the South African] government’s renewable energy initiative.

“ArcelorMittal South Africa’s role in round two of the wind energy programme is to supply steel for 20 wind towers to a Vestas Wind Farm called the Grassridge Wind Energy facility situated in Eastern Cape.

He adds: “The total requirement for these towers were 3,000 tons of steel where ArcelorMittal South Africa have provided 2,200 tonnes and the remaining 800 tonnes have been imported from Gigon in Spain.”

The provision of wind energy projects forms part of the South African government’s Integrated Resource Plan that aims to supply a total of 3,725MW of renewable energy by 2016 and 17,800MW by 2030.