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Distributed Energy Resources

DOE Begins Effort to Turn Waste Sites to Clean Energy Production

The Department of Energy recently launched an initiative to transform former waste dumps into clean energy sites.

The DOE’s Cleanup to Clean Energy program aims to repurpose parts of DOE-owned lands, portions of which were previously used in the nation’s nuclear weapons program, into sites for clean energy generation.

 DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, Office of Nuclear Energy, and National Nuclear Security Administration have identified about 70,000 acres for potential development at five sites:

  • Hanford Site, Richland, Washington;
  • Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, Idaho;
  • Nevada National Security Site, Nye County, Nevada;
  • Savannah River Site, Aiken, South Carolina, and
  • Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Working with a diverse range of stakeholders, including industry, federal entities, tribes, state, and local officials, the DOE said it would explore opportunities to lease federal land for the buildout of utility-scale clean energy projects.

The DOE also said its Cleanup to Clean Energy program would help achieve President Biden’s climate goals and the directive in Executive Order 14057 for agencies to use their properties for the development of new clean electricity generation.

Executive Order 14057, issued in December 2021, sets requirements for federal agencies to reduce their impact on the environment and to reduce the impact of climate change. The order set forth several goals, including

  • 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity on a net annual basis by 2030, including 50 percent 24/7 carbon dioxide pollution-free electricity;
  • 100 percent zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027;
  • a net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032, and
  • net-zero emissions from federal procurement, including a Buy Clean policy to promote use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions.