Interesting Proposal: Use Wastelelands For Solar Farms

This is actually a pretty good idea, using wastelands instead of pristine wilderness. Think about turning huge swaths of dilapidated Detroit into a solar farm

(Christian Science Monitor) When utility giant Exelon built its pioneering inner-city solar plant on an abandoned factory site in Chicago’s West Pullman neighborhood, there was at least one unanticipated hazard: the shattering of glass photovoltaic panels by stray bullets falling from the sky. Exelon City Solar may not have resolved the deep-seated social problems of this crime-ridden South Side community, but it has demonstrated that solar power can breathe new life into polluted properties that have lain dormant and decaying for decades.

OK, mostly a good idea.

Surveying more than 35 million acres of abandoned mines, landfills, factories, and hazardous waste dumps, the US Environmental Protection Agency has identified a total of 5.5 trillion watts of solar potential – enough to produce about seven times the total electricity consumed by all US households. Site preparation costs may be prohibitive at some of these properties; cheap electricity from coal and gas may further inhibit solar development in certain areas; access to transmission lines may be a constraint at others. But already solar developers have overcome these constraints at hundreds of “brownfield” sites across the country, and hundreds of additional projects are in various stages of development. Huge clean energy prospects await us if we are willing to look anew at the wastelands we have long shunned as best forgotten.

There are quite a few places in the US which would be almost perfect, areas that are no longer used because they are polluted. It would be a great idea to put solar panels and wind turbines in these areas. Much better than putting them up in forests and parks and such, land that has benefit.

Tapping all these solar resources, it’s no idle fantasy to imagine a third or more of America’s electricity coming from the sun by mid-century. Brownfield sites are a promising piece of this puzzle. The opportunities abound; we just have to step beyond often-forbidding factory fences and “Danger – No Entry” signs to find them.

I really like this idea. We would just need to keep the gangbangers and scumbags from shooting the solar panels.

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3 Responses to “Interesting Proposal: Use Wastelelands For Solar Farms”

  1. drowningpuppies says:

    Wonder how Hillary feels about that?

  2. Dana says:

    The proposal has one huge drawback: buying polluted land to use for solar panels means buying land that the solar electric companies will be forced to pay to clean up first; what business would buy land knowing that it would incur those huge costs?

    The obvious solution is to provide exemptions from the requirement to clean up the places, but that would quickly lead to charges that the government was subsidizing those companies, charges which would be accurate. And if the land is allowed to be used without cleanup, the first worker who gets sick will have a huge lawsuit.

  3. TrishMac says:

    I love this idea, but see the same drawbacks as Dana. Somewhere there is a solution, and I do hope it can be figured out. They also need to ensure wildlife is safe. And that includes drive by shooters!

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