The facility will use state-of-the-art low-carbon steel fabrication to provide several GW of solar tracking capacity each year.
Nextracker and JM Steel, a division of JENNMAR USA, announced a partnership under which a dedicated solar tracker production line has been built on the campus of a new Steel Dynamics manufacturing facility near Corpus Christi, Texas.
According to Nextracker, the new plant manufactures next-generation low-carbon tracking components that will be used in solar projects throughout the southern United States. Ease in part due to global supply chain uncertainty and rising international shipping costs, Nextracker made the strategic decision to focus on manufacturing in the United States. The new Nextracker production line will support approximately 50 new direct local jobs and provide several GW of solar tracking capacity each year, and is expected to begin operations today.
While low carbon steelmaking reads like an oxymoron, Steel Dynamics uses electric arc furnaces in its manufacturing, which have been described as a “next generation” process for steelmaking, which can lead to electric arc furnace installations that can be up to 75% less carbon-intensive than traditional blast furnaces.
“All steel used to make Nextracker’s products will be made with SDI’s latest electric arc furnace technology, which uses recycled steel or scrap metal as raw material for a reduced carbon footprint, which suits perfectly match Nextracker’s solar products,” said Tony. Calandra, CEO of JM Steel and JENNMAR USA.
Securing steel manufacturing to alleviate supply chain concerns and shipping volatility is an emerging trend in the tracker and racking space, which could continue if the aforementioned market concerns persist. Another big name in the space, Terrasmart manufactures its own steel structures in-house. In a previous interview with photo magazineTerrasmart President Ed McKiernan said such an approach allows his company to change operations “on the fly” and adapt to design and schedule changes for customers.
However, one issue Terrasmart has faced is sourcing steel to enable this process, as steel supply markets have seen historically high demand and can be difficult to navigate as entering a bit more recent. By partnering with an existing name in the industry, Nextracker should be able to forego some of these supply concerns, while maintaining low overall costs and flexible product innovation.
“Customers want to be protected against the volatility of steel and logistics costs, and the logistical delays associated with shipping, containers and ports,” said Dan Shugar, Founder and CEO of Nextracker. “We are migrating to domestic production to stabilize prices and ensure superior on-time delivery for our customers.”
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