Wind and sun the new kids in town for US steel market under Biden

By 2030, offshore wind projects alone could generate as much as 7 million st of new steel demand, according to a recent statement by the US Department of Interior, Energy and Commerce.

On his first day in office Biden revoked the permit of Keystone XL, a pipeline owned by TC Energy, that would transport 830,000 b/d of oil from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska.

The actions signaled the new administration’s stance toward the oil and gas industry, one which accounted for 2.66 million st of direct steel demand from domestic mills in 2019, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

The impact on steel from a loss of oil- and gas-related demand was on full display when oil prices collapsed in 2015.

In contrast to its stance on oil and gas, the Biden administration has followed up with a set of bold actions to catalyze offshore wind energy.

US investments in wind projects have been gaining steam with 60,849 MW of new capacity scheduled to be under development or construction through 2025, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

Most of the steel used in wind projects comes from the construction of the towers, which utilizes high-strength plate.

General Electric introduced Haliade-X, the most powerful offshore wind turbine operating to date as of November 2020, with 13 MW of capacity.

In addition, offshore wind turbine projects are much more steel-intensive than onshore as they require as the foundations for the towers also consume more steel.

Most onshore wind turbines are smaller in size though.

The capacity set to be under development or construction through 2025 will be more than double existing capacity with 96,467 MWs of new utility-scale solar capacity projects slated, according to Market Intelligence data.

Mounting systems for the solar panels generate most of the steel demand.

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