The Department of Energy last week announced up to $450 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to advance clean energy demonstration projects at current and former mine sites. The law, officially the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, was signed by President Biden in November 2021.
According to the April 4 announcement, there are approximately 17,750 mine sites located across 1.5 million acres in the United States, and if repurposed as clean energy sites, they could generate up to 90 GW—enough to power nearly 30 million American homes.
Mine land is often located near critical infrastructure that makes it suitable for clean energy development, the announcement noted, including electric substations, transmission lines, and access roads or railroad lines.
The projects are to be funded through the Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land, which will be managed by the DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations. DOE-OCED will provide up to 50 percent of the cost, ranging from $10 million to $150 million, for each project.
Project specifics: The DOE said it is looking for “well-designed, financially viable projects that can be deployed quickly” and that demonstrate the following:
- Replicable pathways that resolve key barriers to expanded clean energy development on mine land.
- Preservation of natural and agricultural resources through repurposing mine land for clean energy projects.
- Benefits of integrating clean energy facilities on mine land to mine operations and local energy infrastructure, as well as to the mining communities themselves.
Applicants must submit a community benefits plan that explains how their proposed projects will “support community and workforce engagement; invest in the American workforce; advance energy and environmental justice and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; encourage collective bargaining and free and fair opportunities for workers to organize; and deliver benefits to disadvantaged communities as part of the Justice40 Initiative.”
Eligible technologies include advanced nuclear, solar, microgrids, geothermal, direct air capture, energy storage, and fossil-fueled electricity generation with carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration. At least two of the projects must be focused on solar energy.
Concept papers are due by May 11, 2023, with full applications due August 31.
From the top: “Deploying clean energy projects on America’s mine lands will unlock new opportunities for energy communities that have helped power our nation for generations, especially those in rural areas that have been the most affected by the energy transition,” said energy secretary Jennifer Granholm. “Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, mining communities across our nation can access an unprecedented level of new funding to ensure they can help lead our clean energy future.”