This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 28, 2013

EPA, NREL Screen Contaminated Sites for Renewable Energy Potential

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on August 5 updated its RE-Powering mapping and screening tool, which will now provide preliminary screening results for renewable energy potential at 66,000 contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites across the country. Working in collaboration with the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), RE-Powering developed screening criteria for solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal potential at various levels of development.

The RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative, started by EPA in 2008, encourages development of renewable energy on potentially contaminated land, landfills, and mine sites when it is aligned with a community’s vision for the site. Pulling from EPA databases of potentially and formerly contaminated lands, as well as partnering with state agencies from California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, the RE-Powering Initiative expanded the universe of sites from 24,000 to more than 66,000.

The updated tool provides insight into the significant potential for renewable energy generation on contaminated lands and landfills nationwide. For solar energy alone, EPA identified more than 10,000 contaminated sites with the potential to install a 300-kilowatt solar array or greater. Based on mapped acreage, these sites could cumulatively host solar energy systems that capture greater than 30 times more solar energy than all renewable energy systems operating in the United States today. See the EPA press release and the RE-Powering mapping tool.