EPA and the Dept. of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced plans last week (Nov. 4) to jointly evaluate the feasibility of developing biomass, geothermal, solar or wind energy production on 26 Superfund brownfield and former landfill or mining sites. The feasibility study, part of EPA's RE-Powering America's Land initiative, calls for EPA to provide about $1 million in technical assistance to the sites, Lura Matthews, RE-Powering America's Land project lead, told attendees at the PV Power Generation Mid-West & East conference, held this week in Manhattan.

The study aims to determine the best technology for each site; the best location for technology placement; the potential energy generating capacity; the return on investment; and economic feasibility of the energy projects.

"Owners of the sites are mixed [combination]; a lot of them are municipal governments, and some are privately owned," Matthews says. The sites are also in various stages of cleanup, with some already remediated and others under assessment or cleanup. "The site doesn't have to be all the way cleaned up for renewable energy to be put on it," she says. "If they are cleaning ground water on the site, for example, there may still be part of the site where you can put solar panels. Renewable energy projects on the sites will be designed to accommodate the site conditions, she adds.

EPA and NREL expect to complete the analysis in one year for all but wind energy technologies, which will likely take about two years to complete, Matthews says.

The 26 sites are located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

More than 20 renewable power projects have already been built on contaminated sites and others are in progress, according to EPA's Web site. A 6 megawatt solar array was built on the Aeroject General Corp. Superfund site in Sacramento County, Calif. last year. This solar farm is being used to power the cleanup, the agency says.