US government launches $500 Million program to transform mines into new clean energy hubs
The Biden Administration through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Request For Information (RFI) to inform a $500 million program funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to place clean energy demonstration projects on current or former mine lands across America. Operated through 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 DOE said in a statement that the revitalization of mine land to deploy cheaper, cleaner power to more Americans will further the objective of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities which seeks to deliver federal investment to revitalize hard-hit energy communities. It will also advance the Justice40 Initiative which aims to deliver 40 percent of the 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 M. 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.”
Located in geographically diverse regions across the U.S, mine land offers an important opportunity to spur economic development and create jobs in clean energy industries. A recent EPA analysis found approximately 17,750 mine land sites located across 1.5 million acres in the United States. 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 innovative mine land conversion to clean energy projects with a goal of replication across the country. The program will support projects that demonstrate one or more of the following clean energy technologies on mining sites:
• Geothermal energy
• Direct air capture
• Fossil-fueled generation with carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration
• Energy storage, including pumped-storage hydropower and compressed air
• 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.
DOE is seeking feedback from a wide 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. The selected projects will chart a course to navigate federal, state, and local rules and regulations for siting and grid interconnection, mine remediation, post-mining land use, environmental safety and other important processes to successfully develop and operate clean energy projects on current or former mine land.
In addition to this DOE program, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a total of $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land grant funding at the Department of the Interior to eligible states and Tribes to help communities eliminate dangerous environmental hazards and pollution caused by past coal mining while creating jobs and providing opportunities to revitalize coal communities. These reclamation projects enable economic revitalization by rehabilitating hazardous land so that it can be used for recreational facilities or other economic redevelopment uses like advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment being funded by this DOE program.
DOE expects to announce a funding opportunity to solicit project proposals in 2023.
Feedback to this RFI can be submitted on OCED Exchange.