750,000-Panel Solar Farm Will Power Colorado Steel Mill, First of its Kind

The solar energy arm of petro-giant BP has brought together $285 million in private equity to fund a gargantuan solar energy project in Colorado that will power the world’s first carbon-neutral steel mill.

The Bighorn solar project array will feature three-quarters of a million panels generating 300 megawatts, negating 433,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year—the equivalent of removing 92,100 fuel-burning cars from the road.

The 1,800 acre project in Pueblo will be the largest single-customer solar energy plant in the world.

Steel is vital to the world economy. It is also the third-largest contributor on the global greenhouse gas budget, and producing steel domestically removes the carbon-emissions of transit over the ocean from big steel producers or iron miners like China or South Africa.

“This project proves that even hard-to-abate sectors like steel can be decarbonized when companies come together with innovative solutions,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource BP, Americas—the firm which will build and own the array. “It’s a great example of partners tackling complex issues that U.S. industry is facing today while, at the same time, preserving jobs in the manufacturing sector.”

This is not the first movement towards decarbonizing the steel industry: a Swedish venture firm is already trying to create a scaled economy for “green steel” which they produce without adding brown coal.

“Bighorn Solar shows us what the future of American energy can look like. Renewable energy can create a more sustainable, competitive business,” said Dave Lawler, chairman and president of BP Americas. “Projects like this can make companies more resilient and protect jobs through the energy transition.”

Many of the world’s largest oil producers, including Eni Spa, BP, and Shell are now turning collective billions of investment capital into renewable energy projects to aid in energy transition, achieve carbon neutrality, and help meet government mandates on emissions reductions.