U.S. DOE launches mine-to-clean energy initiative

Solar panels installed at the Elizabeth Mine project in Strafford, Vt. Photo: Libra Group

The U.S. Department of Energy has issued a request for information (RFI) for its planned US$500 million program that will install clean energy projects on the sites of current or former mine lands across the country.

Formally funded by the Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the program is now seeking input on clean energy projects that “will help revitalize energy communities and create good paying jobs” in the nation. It will be operated through the DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations.

The Clean Energy Demonstrations on Current and Former Mine Land Program will fund clean energy projects such as geothermal energy on mine land to benefit communities and their economies, create good-paying jobs and reduce carbon pollution.

The ultimate goal is to transform mine land for the deployment of cheaper, cleaner power, which will also provide federal investment to revitalize hard-hit energy communities.

The DOE will also advance the Justice40 Initiative, which is targeting 40% of benefits of clean energy and climate investments to disadvantaged communities. 

“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 the DOE citing recent findings from an analysis undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mine land offers an important opportunity to spur economic development and create jobs in clean energy industries. 

“[The EPA] found approximately 17,750 mine land sites located across 1.5 million acres in the United States,” the agency said. “If all of these current or former U.S. mine land were to be redeveloped with clean energy projects, up to 89 gigawatts of clean electricity could be deployed, enough to power millions of American homes.”

The Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land will demonstrate land conversion to clean energy projects with a goal of replication across the country. The program will support projects with one or more of the following clean energy technologies: solar; microgrids; geothermal energy; direct air capture; fossil-fueled generation with carbon capture, utilization, 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, the DOE confirmed.

The agency expects to announce a funding opportunity to solicit project proposals in 2023. 

Source: Department of Energy

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