EPA Identifies Properties for Renewable Energy Projects

In a novel approach to return land to productive use, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified thousands of properties that could potentially host solar, wind or biomass energy production facilities.

EPA worked with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy
Laboratory to collect information on renewable energy availability
across the country, and merged it with EPA’s data from several land
cleanup programs.

The agency then produced interactive state maps using Google Earth to identify potential sites, including abandoned mine
lands and lands under EPA’s Superfund, Brownfields, and Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act programs.

In addition, EPA applied screening criteria including distance from
power lines, closeness to roads, and site acreage to identify sites
that are good candidates for hosting renewable energy production
facilities.

"EPA is putting renewable energy production on the virtual map," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Our new interactive Website encourages states and energy companies to put previously contaminated properties back to work."

These properties have varying levels of historic contamination. Contamination at some of these properties has already been addressed, while the level of contamination at others is still to be fully investigated. It is likely that some of the brownfields properties have little historic contamination, the EPA said.

According to the EPA, the properties offer a number of attractive features for the development of renewable energy facilities including: appropriate location, useful infrastructure, such as transmission lines and roads, and appropriate zoning for development; landowners and local communities that are often eager to see new economic uses for these properties; an alternative to using green spaces, which may help reduce community concerns about the effects of a planned renewable energy facility.

Information about renewable energy development potential on contaminated lands is available on the EPA website

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