December 6, 2023

What was once the world’s largest steel mill is about to become Maryland’s first permanent offshore wind turbine factory.

From world’s largest steel mill to offshore wind

This week, the US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration awarded $47.4 million to the new factory, called Sparrows Point Steel.

Six Maryland lawmakers (all Democrats) issued a joint statement about the award:

Through both the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, we’re bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US and back to Maryland, and this investment will help make Baltimore a competitive manufacturing hub for offshore wind and a premier destination for clean energy growth.

Sparrows Point Steel is on the site, near the Port of Baltimore, of what used to be Bethlehem Steel, which was founded in 1887 and became the world’s largest steel producer in the 1950s, with 30,000 workers. However, the collapse of the US steel industry forced the mill into bankruptcy, and it closed permanently in 2012 and was abandoned.

In 2021, US Wind, the developer of Maryland’s 300-MW MarWin and 800-MW Momentum Wind offshore wind farms, announced that it would develop Sparrows Point Steel on 90 acres of the old Bethlehem mill site.

It’s going to produce monopile foundations and other steel components needed for MarWin and Momentum Wind. The eventual plan is for the factory to service the entire offshore wind sector on the East Coast. Work will include roll-bending steel plates, welding, painting, and coating, as well as staging and marshalling large component parts for the US offshore wind industry.

The larger site where Sparrows Point Steel Mill is located is now named Tradepoint Atlantic, and work is underway to clean up the environment and make it one of the largest ports on the US East Coast.

Electrek’s Take

I’m a huge fan of adaptive reuse, and I’m also so excited by the revival of US manufacturing in the EV and clean energy sectors due to the Biden administration’s Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.

Bethlehem Steel wasn’t just a steel mill; it was a small city. People lived there. It was impactful and significant, and its collapse was incredibly sad.

Sparrows Point Steel Mill won’t be as large as its predecessor, but it will be a welcome and positive rebirth for this long-abandoned site. And it will also be a lot more sustainable than its predecessor.

Read more: 133 self-storage rooftops in 3 US states are about to power community solar

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