EPA, DOE to study contaminated lands for bioenergy potential

By Lisa Gibson | November 08, 2011

As part of the RE-Powering America Initiative, the U.S. EPA is investing about $1 million to determine the capability of 26 different contaminated sites to host renewable energy projects. The studies will be carried out through project partner U.S. DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Delaware City’s Standard Chlorine site in Delaware is among the superfund, brownfield and former landfill or mining sites being studied for potential to support biomass, solar, geothermal or wind projects. The other sites are in Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington, according to the EPA. 

“One of the purposes of the feasibility studies is to give communities and site owners information that would attract developers to these sites,” said an EPA spokesperson. “If these sites are viable, EPA will work with communities to support and enhance their efforts to bring renewable energy to the site.”

The analyses will determine the best renewable energy technology for the sites, the optimal location for placement of renewable technology, potential energy generating capacity, the return on investment, and the economic feasibility of the projects.

Potential biomass projects could include both biopower and liquid biofuels from wood or crop waste. The feasibility studies for solar, geothermal and biomass will take about one year, while wind feasibility studies could take two years or more, taking into account the gathering and analyses of wind data.

Superfund sites are the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites identified by the EPA for cleanup. Brownfields are properties at which expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence of contaminants.