RE-Powering tool highlights bioenergy potential

By Staff | October 07, 2013

The U.S. EPA has updated its RE-Powering Mapping and Screening Tool. The tool, part of the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative, provides preliminary screening results for renewable energy potential on contaminated land, landfill and mine sites. It now profiles 66,000 locations, up from 34,000.

The tool pulls data from EPA databases of potentially and formerly contaminated lands. The RE-Powering Initiative has worked in collaboration with the U.S. DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop screening criteria for biomass, solar, wind and geothermal potential on identified sites.

Currently, the tool identifies 9,966 potential sites for biopower development. These sites have biomass resources of at least 280,000 metric tons per year within 50 miles, are at least 50 acres in size, are less than 10 miles from transmission lines and are close to graded roads and rail. In addition, 1,947 sites are identified as potential locations for landfill gas projects, with 9,966 potential sites identified as possible biorefinery locations.

More than 70 renewable energy projects have already been installed on contaminated lands or landfills through the initiative, representing more than 200 MW of combined capacity. Most of these projects to date have been solar, with EPA data highlighting only one 20 MW project currently employing biomass. However, information published by the agency states that biomass potential at EPA’s tracked sites is more than 190,000 MW on a technical basis.