EPA, NREL partner to develop energy on polluted land

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, brownfields, and former landfill or mining sites.

Superfund sites are the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites identified by 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. EPA is investing more than $650,000 for the project that pairs 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.