DOE eyes mine sites for clean energy hubs
White House investing $500M in mine land clean energy program Metal Tech News June 29, 2022
Last updated 4/16/2023 at 7:05am
The White House has allotted $500 million for a program that aims to transform old and current mine sites into renewable energy hubs.
Being administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Clean Energy Demonstrations on Current and Former Mine Land Program aims to validate innovative approaches to converting mine lands to clean energy projects, with a goal of replication across the nation.
DOE says the repurposing of mine land for energy projects that lower carbon dioxide emissions will further the objective of the Biden administration's Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities, which seeks to invest in the revitalization of communities being hit by the transition away from energy generated from fossil fuels.
"Developing clean energy on mine lands is an opportunity for fossil fuel communities, which have powered our nation for a generation, to receive an economic boost and play a leadership role in our clean energy transition," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. "The investments in the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help America's mining workforce apply their skills to grow and deploy cheaper, cleaner energy across the country."
According to recent analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency, there are roughly 1.5 million acres of mine lands at approximately 17,750 sites across the U.S. The Biden administration calculates that as much as 89 gigawatts of clean energy could be generated if all this acreage at former and current mine sites was converted to renewable energy hubs.
Technologies being considered for funding under the Clean Energy Demonstrations on Current and Former Mine Land Program include:
• Geothermal energy.
• Direct-air carbon capture.
• Fossil-fueled generation with carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration.
• Energy storage, including pumped-storage hydropower and compressed air.
• Advanced nuclear.
DOE says at least two of the projects under this program must include solar energy and is seeking information about the potential for installation of domestically manufactured panels.
The selected demonstration projects are expected to help chart a course to navigate federal, state, and local regulatory processes for siting and grid integration, mine remediation, post-mining land use, environmental safety, and other considerations to successfully develop and operate clean energy projects on current or former mine sites.
In addition to leveraging mine land as geographically diverse locales to install clean energy projects in the U.S., DOE says this program will also advance the Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the benefits of clean energy and climate investments to disadvantaged communities.
As such, the energy department is seeking input on how to design the program such that it will best encourage private-sector investment in similar projects leading to economic development for underserved communities located near current and former mine land while advancing environmental justice.
In addition to this program, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land funding through the Department of the Interior to help communities eliminate environmental hazards and pollution caused by historical coal mining, while creating jobs and providing opportunities to revitalize coal communities.
The coal mining land reclaimed by this funding can be used for recreational facilities, advanced manufacturing, or the renewable energy deployment being funded by the Clean Energy Demonstrations on Current and Former Mine Land Program
DOE expects to solicit clean energy on mine land project proposals in 2023.