The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are evaluating the feasibility of developing renewable-energy production on Superfund sites, brownfields, and former landfill or mining sites.
Superfund sites are the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites identified by the EPA for cleanup due to the risk they pose to human health or the environment. Brownfields are properties at which expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence of contaminants.
The EPA is investing more than $650,000 for the project that pairs the EPA’s expertise on contaminated sites with the renewable-energy expertise of NREL. The project is part of the RE-Powering America’s Land initiative, which aims to decrease the amount of green space used for development, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide health and economic benefits to local communities, including job creation.
The project will analyze the potential development of wind, solar or small hydro development at 12 sites. The analysis will include determining the best renewable-energy technology for the site, the optimal location for placement of the renewable-energy technology on the site, potential energy-generating capacity, the return on the investment, and the economic feasibility of the renewable energy projects.
The 12 sites are located in California, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Some of the sites under consideration for renewable-energy projects have completed cleanup activities, while others may be in various stages of assessment or cleanup. Renewable-energy projects on these sites will be designed to accommodate the site conditions.
In September 2008, the EPA launched the RE-Powering America’s Land initiative to promote the developing of renewable energy on potentially contaminated land and mining sites. The EPA partnered with the NREL to do an initial screening to determine sites that may be used for renewable-energy projects.