Steel beams and bars have always been used to support various industries and applications, from power plants to pressure valves. However, with the rise of the green energy movement, they are coming into play more than ever. Fabricated bars and beams are the foundation of several renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels, steel wind turbines, and water gates. In this article, we’ll dive into the various uses of steel.
How Steel Supports Renewable Energy Technologies
Today’s most popular renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal) all utilize structural steel components due to their ability to withstand extreme environments.
Temperature Resistance – Steel beams and bars retain their strength at extremely high temperatures, which is highly beneficial for solar energy. Solar panels are predominately used in areas where sunshine is most abundant, which consequently happens to be in regions prone to extreme heat. Therefore, the panels also need to withstand the desert’s sub-zero temperatures overnight. Efficient steel solutions are perfect for this job, as they do not melt, warp, or break in extreme temperatures.
Naturally Hygienic – Unlike other materials, steel beams and bars are resistant to abrasion and cracking over their lifespan. In solar power plants, any chips, cracks, or dents can harbor bacteria, which can pose a health hazard. But, thanks to the robust properties of steel, the equipment remains uncontaminated.
Corrosion Resistance – High-quality steel beams and bars don’t rust. Therefore, it is ideal for the harsh environments where many renewable energy plants are frequently based. Sand, moisture, and corrosion are all commonly associated with solar, wind, and hydropower sites.
Long Lifespan – Steel is built to stand the test of time—a lifetime, in fact. Many renewable energy power plants are designed to last several decades. Fabricated bars and beams made of steel are an excellent choice for these types of applications.
Top 3 Renewable Energy Sources that Utilize Bars & Beams
Steel components are required by each of these markets. Without fabricated bars and beams, none of the renewable energy structures would be possible. Every wind turbine, solar panel, and water dam requires efficient steel solutions.
Steel plays an important role in all renewables, especially solar. In fact, studies show that each new megawatt (MW) of solar power requires 35-45 tons of steel.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels require structural support that is corrosion-resistant, weatherproof, and long-lasting. Steel beams and bars provide a foundation for the solar panels themselves, as well as the structures that they are mounted on. Solar power plants also utilize steel for solar thermal panels in tanks, pumps, and heat exchangers.
Steel reinforcement is the primary material for constructing onshore and off-shore wind turbines. Nearly every component of these turbines is made with some form of steel. This includes turbine foundations, lattice towers, gears, casings, and other machine parts. Steel bars and beams are typically used in the upper portions, while reinforced concrete is used towards the base of the tower.
The robust material is what allows us to construct stronger, taller, and more efficient turbines that generate incredible amounts of energy. Each new megawatt of wind power requires 120-180 tons of steel.
Steel also plays a crucial role in converting running water into electricity. Hydropower is one of the largest sources of renewable energy used today. At hydropower plants, massive turbines made of steel can weigh as much as 172 tons.
Steel beams and bars are also essential to the reinforcement of concrete dams. In addition, efficient steel solutions also serve as a base for heat exchangers, tanks, pumps, and even tidal turbines. Corrosion is a significant factor in these operations, so it’s crucial that these beams and bars are formulated to take on the rigors of the harsh marine environment.
DWR is Facilitating the Renewable Energy Boom
Each of these renewable energy sources is growing increasingly important to our society as time progresses. The worldwide demand for energy is steadily on the rise, and steel is proving its worth for the construction of renewable energy technologies.
DWR Reinforcing and Steel Solutionsis North America’s trusted concrete reinforcement manufacturer. For more than 15 years, we’ve provided reinforcement solutions to industry leaders in the energy and utilities manufacturing markets. From structural steel beams to fabricated rebar, we have just what you need for your renewable energy project.