Turning An Old Nuclear Bomb Site Into A Solar Farm?

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What do we do with a big old plot of land that’s been bombed to smithereens with nuclear bombs? Build a school there? Plop a new luxury home development with a fancy pool and spa on it? Probably not. In fact, it’s quite hard to figure out what to do with a plot of land contaminated by nuclear bombs.

However, as the title implies, solar power can save the day again. The US Department of Energy (DOE) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) want commercial solar developers to build nuclear farms on land where nuclear bombs were tested from the 1950s to the 1990s. Who would take the DOE up on that offer, though? Apparently, six companies would, as they turned in proposals.

Following the release of a Request for Information (RFI) in December 2023, six responses from interested developers came in by January 12. Now, the US government is at the next step and has put out a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). And to be clear, it’s not guaranteed this will result in a solar farm on a nuclear test site. “NNSA is considering leasing land on the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS),” an announcement notes.

“Feedback from the January 16 Community Engagement Round Table, RFI, and the February 13 Information Day will be considered in developing the RFQ that NNSA tentatively will release in March 2024.”

This is not the government’s first foray down this kind of road. “DOE has previously released a Draft RFQ pertaining to a Realty Agreement (lease or possibly an easement) for carbon pollution-free electricity projects at the Hanford site,” the DOE states. “DOE also has issued a RFI focused on generating clean energy at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina and a RFI for clean energy production at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).”

Progress.

“This solar project makes good use of NNSS land, generates clean energy, and brings jobs and innovation to the state of Nevada,” said Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby. “DOE and NNSA are committed to combatting climate change not only through our R&D efforts but also through clean energy production on our sites.”

Overall, the DOE is working hard to make use of nearly useless land that has been contaminated in various ways. The good news is that solar farms and wind farms are great ways to utilize such land, with proper precautious of course. Only minimal human labor is needed for wind and solar power plant operations. “More information on Cleanup to Clean Energy can be found at Cleanup to Clean Energy — Expanding Clean Energy Generation on DOE Lands,” the DOE adds.

Read more stories on solar brownfields for more wholesome fun about turning contaminated sites into clean energy farms.


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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