The US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced the Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, which will see department-owned land formerly used for nuclear weapons production opened up to clean energy development.
Around 70,000 acres of land owned by the DoE will be leased to renewable energy companies to situate solar, wind or nuclear power projects. Most of these land parcels were used to develop plutonium and uranium for nuclear weapons during the Second World War and the Cold War.
Jennifer Granholm, the US Energy Secretary, stated: “Through the Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, DoE will leverage areas that were previously used to protect our national security and will repurpose them to the same end – this time, generating clean energy that will help save the planet and protect our energy independence.”
The 70,000 acres of land is spread across five sites in different parts of the US: the Hanford Site in Washington state; the Idaho National Laboratory; the Nevada National Security Site; the Savannah River site in South Carolina; and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.
“These sites are all safe now, they are completely clean and ready for redevelopment,” Granholm said at the announcement event on 28 July.
Granholm also stressed that local and indigenous communities would be involved in the Cleanup to Clean Energy projects. “We are going to transform the lands we have used over decades for nuclear security and environmental remediation by working closely with tribes and local communities together with partners in the private sector to build some of the largest clean energy projects in the world.”
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The renewable energy generated at these sites will aid the DoE in achieving President Joe Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity for the federal government by 2030. Executive Order 14057 stated that the federal government should, alongside 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030, achieve “a net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50% emissions reduction by 2032” and a 65% reduction in scope 1 and scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.