Since its founding in 2015, Solarport has grown to become one of the largest suppliers of structural components for solar farms in the United Kingdom. During 2023, the company began to utilise Magnelis® ZM800 from ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products in the manufacture of components for ground-mounted solar arrays. The heavier coating – 65 µm on each side of an S450GD-HyPer® substrate – enables Solarport to offer lifetimes of up to 40 years to solar farm operators. That is a crucial differentiator as investors become more aware of corrosion resistance. Although Magnelis® ZM800 only became commercially available in 2023, Solarport has already deployed it in several solar farms across the UK.
Magnelis® ZM800 allows Solarport to offer lifetimes of up to 40 years. [Copyright: Solarport]
The Solarport team discovered Magnelis® ZM800 on a visit to ArcelorMittal’s mill in Bremen (Germany) with representatives from their local steel service centre, Davro Steel. “We were so impressed; we placed our first order for ZM800 before we even left the mill,” notes Liam Tattershall, Operations Director at Solarport. “That material went straight into a new solar farm.”
The company had already used Magnelis® in its components following a recommendation from Davro Steel. “We did several training sessions with the Solarport team to make them aware of the properties of this continuously hot dip coated steel,” says Greg Anthony, Managing Director of Davro Steel. “We also developed a calculator which allows Solarport to use geotechnical data from each site to adjust material selection.”
Solarport has already deployed Magnelis® ZM800 at several solar farms in the UK. [Copyright: Solarport]
“Magnelis® is a much more sophisticated corrosion protection solution than batch hot dip galvanisation (which offers max. 55 µm per side on 3.0 mm steel according to ISO 1461),” explains Liam Tattershall. “While the Magnelis® grades with lighter coating weights can meet the 25- and 35-year lifetimes required by customers, we needed something that could last even longer. With its 65 µm coating on each side, Magnelis® ZM800 allows us to offer lifetimes of up to 40 years. ArcelorMittal’s extensive testing programme gives us, and our customers, assurance that the material is durable.”
The UK government wants to achieve 70 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity by 2030. [Copyright: Solarport]
Magnelis® makes the manufacturing process simple as Liam Tattershall explains: “The folding, pressing, and rolling operations we perform in our facilities are very smooth. Magnelis® forms better than galvanised material and there is no pick-up of the coating on the rolls. With standard galvanised material, production was slower as there was a lot of material on the rolls which needed to be cleaned.”
With its own manufacturing facilities in the UK, Solarport can produce up to two gigawatts of capacity annually. [Copyright: Solarport]
Another key advantage over galvanisation is that Solarport does not need to send finished parts offsite for corrosion protection. “We save on transport costs and emissions,” says Liam Tattershall. “Magnelis® also heals on cut edges, ensuring that any scratches that do occur during transport or storage remain corrosion free.”
Scratches that occur during handling or storage remain corrosion free thanks to the cut-edge protection offered by Magnelis®. [Copyright: Solarport]
Following discussions with Davro Steel and ArcelorMittal, Solarport has plans to utilise Magnelis® ZM800 for most of its components. “We know that Magnelis® ZM800 will meet the requirements of many more sites and soils, so it makes sense to standardise our offer on this coating,” says Liam Tattershall. “That will provide us, and our customers, with a lot of confidence.”
Liam Tattershall, Operations Director at Solarport [Copyright: Solarport]
With an ambitious goal to achieve 70 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity by 2030, the government of the United Kingdom has dramatically kick-started the local photovoltaic (PV) industry. “The UK solar market has 15.8 GW of capacity installed to date,” notes Greg Anthony. “With its ability to produce around two gigawatts of capacity each year, Solarport is well positioned to meet the growing demand for solar in the UK. Using Magnelis® ZM800 will ensure a long life for these new installations.”
Greg Anthony, Managing Director of Davro Steel [Copyright: Davro Steel]
Solarport is also looking at product optimisation to provide the best solution for customers. A key example is the company’s BESS battery mounting system. “Hybrid installations which include both solar power generation and batteries are becoming more common,” notes Liam Tattershall. “The battery helps electricity authorities to balance the grid. We’re redesigning our BESS system using value engineering. Our goal is to replace the existing material with rolled sections so Magnelis® can also be deployed in this application. This will reduce maintenance over the life of a solar installation.”
Having the support of ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products is important for Solarport and its customers explains Liam Tattershall: “ArcelorMittal already has Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) available for Magnelis®. As the market becomes more aware of corrosion resistance and environmental considerations, this adds to the growing level of confidence in Magnelis®. We also get great support from ArcelorMittal when it comes to solving any technical problems our customers encounter. For Solarport, high-quality products and the satisfaction of our customers are the keys to our success.”
Solarport is a leading designer and manufacturer of solar mounting systems. Since it was founded in 2015, Solarport has deployed utility scale and modular ground mounting systems across the UK and Europe. With its own manufacturing facilities in the UK, Solarport can produce up to two gigawatts of capacity annually.
More info: www.solarportsystems.com
Davro Steel is a major supplier of high-quality steel strip and sheet products to the UK and Europe. From its base in Birmingham (UK), Davro Steel supplies all major steel markets including construction, automotive, yellow and white goods, and the renewable energy sector.
More info: www.davrosteel.co.uk