Developers told to use contam land for green energy

Using contaminated land to develop renewable energy is less likely to meet opposition and could come with a big financial bonus, developers are being told.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is urging firms to use former contaminated sites and mining sites to develop technology such as wind turbines, large-scale solar panels, or biorefineries.

EPA has teamed up with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to produce an interactive map of potential sites that developers can look at using Google Earth.

It has also drawn up lists of the various loans, grants and tax rebates that are available in each state for companies that redevelop contaminated land or develop renewable energy sources.

EPA said many of the sites, particularly large superfund sites, offer thousands of acres of land – meaning that erecting large wind turbines or banks of solar panels is less likely meet with opposition because of its visual impact.

Other benefits include that they often also have existing power lines, roads and other infrastructure, and could be a cheaper option for developers.

EPA said: “EPA tracked lands may have lower overall transaction costs than greenfields due to the relative ease of acquisition of large swaths of land from one or few owners, versus acquisition of greenfields from potentially numerous landowners.

“Redevelopment of brownfields for green energy production can help reduce the stress on greenfields for construction of new energy facilities and can provide clean, emission-free energy.”

EPA tracks nearly half a million contaminated sites across the US which consist of almost 15m acres of land.

Only about 850,000 acres currently has cleanup plans in place, leaving millions of acres free for redevelopment.

Kate Martin

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