The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched a $500 million program to transform current or former mine sites into clean energy hubs.

With funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, projects are expected to yield economic benefits and reduce carbon emissions by deploying clean energy technologies based on solar energy, microgrids, geothermal energy, energy storage, advanced nuclear systems, direct air capture, or fossil-fueled generation with carbon capture and sequestration. The program is also structured to deliver 40% of the benefits of clean energy and climate investments to disadvantaged communities in accord with the Justice40 Initiative.

Located throughout the U.S., mine land offers an important opportunity to spur economic development and create jobs in clean energy industries. A recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis found approximately 17,750 mine land sites located across 1.5 million acres nationwide. Redevelopment of these sites with clean energy infrastructure could yield up to 89 GW of electricity.

Solar panels installed at a mine project in Strafford, Vermont. Source: EPASolar panels installed at a mine project in Strafford, Vermont. Source: EPA

DOE expects to announce a funding opportunity to solicit project proposals in 2023 and seeks feedback from a 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.

To contact the author of this article, email shimmelstein@globalspec.com