Tata to invest £53m in Welsh steel plant27 April 2011

Tata Steel has announced a £53 million project to build a new evaporative cooling system for its Port Talbot facility, which will cut energy consumption by 15%.

The basic oxygen steelmaking (BOS) plant will have the benefit of producing steam, allowing electricity to be generated. The resulting reduction in energy consumption will improve the sustainability of steelmaking in Wales.

The project will replace the BOS plant's existing off-gas water-cooling system with an evaporative system that will produce steam. This will be converted through a turbine into electrical power, improving the energy balance of the steel melt shop and the process safety of the plant

Tata says the work will be carried out in the second half of 2012, in parallel with the £185m rebuilding of Port Talbot's No 4 blast furnace that was announced late last year.

Jon Ferriman, director of Tata Steel's UK strip products business, said: "This project makes further advances towards our vision of becoming self-sufficient in energy, and also further improves our environmental performance. By equipping our BOS plant with a state-of-the-art evaporative cooling system, we will improve Port Talbot's productivity and energy efficiency."

Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan welcomed the announcement: "As one of the biggest employers in Wales, this latest £53 million investment is great news for the long-term future of Tata in Wales and a vote of confidence in its experienced and committed workforce at Port Talbot and the Welsh economy at large."

She added: "It is also good news for the environment as the new cooling system will reduce external power requirements at Port Talbot by about 15%, enough to power up to 20,000 homes, and will contribute towards making the Tata site more self-sufficient in energy."

Laura Cork

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