Feds allocate $475 million to projects redeveloping mines for clean energy 

March 25, 2024

The U.S. The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $475 million to accelerate the development of clean energy projects in Arizona, Kentucky, Nevada, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Among the projects selected for investment are solar, microgrid and pumped storage hydropower systems as well as geothermal and battery energy storage systems.

All the developments have a workforce-training component and will repurpose mine lands that are near critical infrastructure such as electric substations, transmission lines. The projects selected have the potential to be replicated in other parts of the U.S., officials said.

Three projects are being developed on former Appalachian coal mines. Two initiatives in the west will displace fossil fuels by ramping up net-zero mining operations and supplying the raw materials needed for a viable domestic clean energy supply chain.

In addition to expanding local and regional worker partnerships, the projects are expected to generate local tax revenue and spur new economic opportunities in communities that have local economies historically dependent on the mining industry.

A project in Graham and Greelee counties in Arizona will use direct geothermal, clean heat combined with a battery energy storage system at two active copper mines in southeast Arizona, helping decrease the mines’ reliance on onsite thermal backup generators to support the annual extraction of 25 million pounds of copper.

In Bell County, Kentucky, the funds will convert former coal mine land to a closed-loop, pumped-storage hydroelectric facility that can release up to eight hours of power during peak demand times or extreme weather events. In addition to increasing local tax revenues that have declined steadily since the 1970s, this project will create about 1,500 new jobs.

In Nevada’s Elko, Humboldt and Eureka counties, a project will develop a solar photovoltaic facility and accompanying battery energy storage system across three active gold mines in the state. The project will demonstrate a replicable way for the mining industry to reach net-zero operations while meeting growing demands for minerals across multiple sectors, including the clean energy supply chain.

A solar project will repurpose nearly 2,700 acres of fallow coal mine land to support Pennsylvania’s largest solar energy project.

The solar plant is expected to generate enough clean energy to power more than 70,000 homes. This project will increase regional access to clean energy and replace the shuttered Homer City coal plant.

The New River Community and Technical College, Mana Group, and National Association of Counties Research Foundation plan to create a national Coal Transition Workforce Center to repurpose two former coal mines with a utility-scale, 250 megawatt solar plant in Nicholas County, West Virginia. The plant is expected to power 39,000 homes.

Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

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