Smelter to lead the way on ‘green’ metal strategy, claim owners
THE SMELTER in Fort William is to become the flagship of ‘ green metal strategy’ according to new owners.
Since acquiring the aluminium smelter formerly owned by Rio Tinto along with the neighbouring Kinlochleven hydro plant in December 2016, GFG Alliance company SIMEC has already invested £10 million to install 18MW of bio- diesel generation capacity to reduce the reliance of the smelter on imported power from the national grid.
Last week, plans to further invest tens of millions of pounds to boost the output of existing hydro- electric plants and introducing new hydro generators, as well as extending the use of bio diesel and exploring other renewable energy sources such as wind, biomass and waste-to- energy, were revealed by SIMEC and Liberty (also of GFG Alliance) to MSP Paul Wheelhouse.
GFG Alliance executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta, who hosted Mr Wheelhouse’s visit, said: ‘ We see the Highlands as the flagship of our GREENS- METAL strategy. There is huge potential here to optimise the use of natural resources and other locally available materials to produce the renewable power that will underpin many hundreds of new industrial jobs in the area.’
During the visit, the companies explained a plan to make the site even more self-sufficient by carrying out major engineering works to improve water flow through the 24 kilometre-long Treig Tunnel which will in turn substantially boost the capacity of the Lochaber hydro station. Mr Wheelhouse, minister for business, innovation and energy, learned the alliance’s follow-up plans include the creation of a network of smaller-scale hydro plants to maximise the economic benefit to the local economy of the area’s natural water resource. This may include opportunities for community ownership of local generating capacity.
Following the visit the Minister said: ‘I am pleased to be here today to see first-hand how SIMEC is using its existing hydro- electric schemes and to learn how its sister company Liberty House plans to harness green energy to boost manufacturing in the Highlands.
‘As well as its exciting plans to develop its existing and new hydro schemes, biomass, waste-to- energy and other forms of renewable energy all feature in the company’s vision for further development of the site. This is a great example of how green renewable power can support innovation in industry as well as helping us to meet our renewables targets and climate change obligations’.