US launches programme to transform mines into clean energy hubs

5 July 2022

The US Administration, through the Department of Energy (DOE), have issued a Request For Information (RFI) to inform a $500 million programme funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to place clean energy demonstration projects on current or former mine lands across the USA. The Clean Energy Demonstrations on Current and Former Mine Land Program, operated through DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, will fund clean energy on mine land to benefit communities and their economies.

“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 Secretary of Energy Jennifer M 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.”

A recent Environmental Protection Agency analysis found approximately 17,750 mine land sites located across 1.5 million acres in the USA. Redeveloping all of these current or former mine lands with clean energy projects could produce up to 89GWe of clean electricity.

The programme will support projects that demonstrate one or more of the following clean energy technologies on mining sites: solar; microgrids; geothermal energy; direct air capture; fossil-fuelled generation with carbon capture, utilisation, and sequestration; energy storage, including pumped-storage hydropower and compressed air; and advanced nuclear.

Two of the clean energy demonstration projects funded under this program must include solar energy and DOE is seeking information from respondents about opportunities to use domestically-manufactured solar for these projects.

DOE is seeking feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including industry, community organizations, environmental justice organizations labor unions, and state and local governments. Public input is sought 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. The selected projects will chart a course to navigate federal, state, and local rules and regulations for siting and grid interconnection, mine remediation, post-mining land use, environmental safety and other important processes to successfully develop and operate clean energy projects on current or former mine land.

In addition to this DOE programme, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land grant funding at the Department of the Interior to eligible states and Tribes to help communities eliminate dangerous environmental hazards and pollution caused by past coal mining by rehabilitating hazardous land so that it can be used for recreational facilities or other economic redevelopment uses such as advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment being funded by this DOE programme. DOE expects to announce a funding opportunity to solicit project proposals in 2023.

Image: The US has launched a programme to transform former mine sites into clean energy projects (photo courtesy of iStock)

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