The utility company National Grid has teamed up with solar specialist Rivermoor Energy to build a 1-megawatt solar array at a former industrial site in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The new project is more than double the size of its closest competitor, a 425 kilowatt solar array located on the site of a former brownfield in Brockton. The new installation is another notch on the solar belt for Rivermoor, which also started construction on the largest rooftop solar installation in Boston earlier this year.
Beyond that, the whole idea of reclaiming brownfields to create new green jobs in sustainable energy by reclaiming brownfields has been taking off with a big push from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It’s a restorative approach that offers a stark contrast with the destruction caused by fossil fuel harvesting, the latest example being British Petroleum’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Brown Fields and Green Jobs
The idea behind reclaiming brownfields for sustainable energy is partly one of simple expediency. Many of these abandoned or underused industrial sites have usable roads and utility hookups in place, helping to lower the cost of new construction on the site. Many are located near existing communities, raising the possibility of creating new local jobs that would reduce the impact of long distance travel. Both of these aspects are essentially conservationist, maximizing the use of existing resources to create new energy generating capacity. The brownfields concept also ties in with the trend toward distributed energy, in which sustainable energy is harvested at or near its point of use.
Brown Fields, Green Future
The expediency angle is starting to make the brownfields concept look mighty attractive, in comparison to the non-expediency inherent in offshore oil drilling. As detailed by AP reporters Cain Burdeau and Holbrook Mohr, just last year British Petroleum executives all but claimed that a catastrophic accident at the oil well was impossible – so apparently they didn’t plan for one. Think Progress is also reporting that last June, BP joined the offshore drilling industry in opposing stricter rules that were proposed by the U.S. Minerals and Management Service. Now that the offshore oil industry and BP in particular have offered up a clear demonstration of incompetency and untrustworthiness, perhaps we can finally get off this drill baby drill thing and focus our resources on new sustainable technologies that create new green jobs.
Image: Brownfield site by nickton on flickr.com.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.