Opportunities for Utility-Scale Solar Power on Contaminated Lands

Solar project build on a former landfill, Ft. Carson, CO.

Siting issues are some of the largest impediments to expanding the role of solar power in our energy mix. Environmentalists argue that there’s enough already-disturbed lands to build on without damaging or destroying intact ecosystems.

Data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bolster the green position. According to the EPA’s RE-Powering America’s Land program, there are nearly 15 million acres of contaminated land across the U.S. This total includes brownfields, abandoned mines, Superfund sites and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act areas. A significant portion of this total is suitable for utility-scale solar projects or wind farms.

In the video below, the EPA’s Lura Matthews talks about the potential for developing renewable energy sources on these lands.

For more information:

RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative Management Plan (pdf)

Renewable Energy Interactive Mapping Tool (pdf)

EPA Fact Sheet (pdf)

Lura Matthews, EPA, interviewed at PV America 2011


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3 thoughts on “Opportunities for Utility-Scale Solar Power on Contaminated Lands

  1. I’m glad I came accross your site, you have a lot of usefull information. That’s an impressive sight seeing all those solar panels producing low cost energy on an otherwise useless piece of ground. The interview with Lura Matthews was enlightening to me as I had not previously heard or thought about using contaminated lands for renewable energy projects, what a great idea. As Terri pointed out above and Lura mentioned in the interview these lands need to be used without creating more environmental damage. I hope more of these site get developed so we can get America more self-sufficient and less reliant on other countries resources.

  2. In my news article, “Climate change transforming Navajo’s dunescape to dust bowl,” I reported, “The Obama administration’s push to develop solar, wind and geothermal renewable energy projects on millions of acres of public land across the west could release more dust. The dust not only carries hazardous particles left over from nuclear testing, it also can carry infectious disease. Physicians for Social Responsibility reports that the incidence of coccidioidomycosis, also known as valley fever, a fungal disease endemic to the southwestern United States, will increase due to increased airborne dust and sandstorms.” Is this a concern you’ve come across in your reporting and research, Osha?

    Thanks again for your continuing push into these important areas of concern to the residents these projects would affect.

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