Nextracker localizes solar tracker steel supply with production line in Texas via JM Steel

JM Steel worker on Nextracker-dedicated production line. Sinton, Texas

Steel pricing and supply is extremely volatile right now, highlighting the need for more, U.S.-based sources for the solar industry. JM Steel, a division of JENNMAR USA, is dedicating a new production line solely to manufacture solar tracker components for Nextracker. This new facility with JM Steel will be located on the campus of the new Steel Dynamics, Inc. (SDI) facility near Corpus Christi, Texas. Once fully operational, the new Nextracker production line will provide multi-GW of solar tracker capacity annually.

Partnering with JM Steel, Nextracker will have a dedicated supply of critical materials within one of the fastest growing and biggest solar markets: Texas and the Southern US. Last year, Texas overtook California as the top-ranked state for solar capacity additions adding 6.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar with an additional 23 GW expected by 2023.

“JM Steel’s proximity to SDI will provide Nextracker and their customers cost-effective products with quick response times to feed the growing solar market in Texas and the South”, said Tony Calandra, CEO of JM Steel and JENNMAR USA. “And all of the steel being used to make Nextracker’s products will be made with SDI’s newest Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) technology, which utilizes recycled or scrap steel as a raw material for a lower carbon footprint which is a perfect fit for Nextracker’s solar products.”

“Customers want protection from steel and logistics cost volatility, and logistics delays associated with shipping, containers, and ports”, said Dan Shugar, Founder and CEO of Nextracker. “We are migrating to domestic production to stabilize pricing and achieve superior on-time delivery for our customers.”

Shuhar also notes that U.S. steel manufacturers like SDI have lower carbon emissions in their production processes than most overseas manufacturers.

Steel manufacturing typically is energy-intensive, but the Electric Arc Furnace, a “next-generation” process, is much more efficient and cuts pollution dramatically. EAF-based steel mills typically are as much as 75% less carbon-intensive than traditional blast furnaces.

“With JM Steel, we are collocated next to SDI Sinton, the newest steel mill in America, further lowering cost and improving sustainability by integrating key manufacturing activities on a single campus,” he says.

The 97,000 square-foot JM Steel Sinton facility opened in October 2021 and represents a $40 million investment.

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