Department of Energy to set aside $450 million for clean energy development on former mine sites

April 4, 2023

The Biden administration announced its new clean energy plans that includes $450 million set aside to advance clean energy projects on former mine sites. The administration said the plan will give special attention to those projects that provide new economic opportunities for coal communities.

The funds will be made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to advance clean energy demonstration projects on current and former mine land, “providing new economic opportunities for historic coal and mining communities. Approximately 17,750 mine land sites are located across 1.5 million acres in the United States,” the administration said in a statement. “Repurposing this extensive area of land for clean energy projects is estimated to generate up to 90 GW of clean energy—enough to power nearly 30 million American homes.”

The Department of Energy also announced that it is making $16 million available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to the University of North Dakota and West Virginia University to complete design studies for the first-ever full-scale domestic demonstration refinery that will extract and separate rare earth elements and other critical minerals from coal ash, acid mine drainage, and other mine waste. “This project will help strengthen American supply chains, revitalize energy communities, and reduce reliance on competitors like China,” the DOE said in a statement.
As many as five projects nationwide will be funded through the 2021 infrastructure law, with at least two projects set aside for solar farms, the White House said.

The White House also said it will allow developers of clean energy projects to take advantage of billions of dollars in new bonuses being offered in addition to investment and production tax credits available through the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. The bonuses will “incentivize more clean energy investment in energy communities, particularly coal communities,″ that have been hurt by a decade-plus decline in U.S. coal production, the White House said.

The Associated Press reported that the projects are modeled on a site Biden visited last summer, where a former coal-fired power plant in Massachusetts is shifting to offshore wind power.

“It’s very clear that ... the workers who powered the last century of industry and innovation can power the next one,″ said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, whose agency will oversee the new grant program.

Up to five clean energy projects will be funded at current and former mines, Granholm said. The demonstration projects are expected to be examples for future development, “providing knowledge and experience that catalyze the next generation of clean energy on mine land projects,″ the Energy Department said.

Applications are due by the end of August, with grant decisions expected by early next year.

 Photo credit: Shutterstock


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