Coal company Peabody launches joint venture to develop solar in mining country

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Peabody Energy, a coal company that serves power and steel customers in more than 25 countries on six continents, has launched R3 Renewables LLC, a renewable energy development company that initially will focus on developing six potential sites on large tracts of land on or near previous coal mining operations in Indiana and Illinois.

In a joint venture with Riverstone Credit Partners and Summit Partners Credit Advisors, R3 Renewables plans to develop over 3.3GW of solar PV and 1.6GW of battery storage capacity over the next five years.

Peabody Energy said the sites are in close proximity to grid interconnection points, and the size of the portfolio has the potential for the development of the largest solar and battery storage projects in Indiana and Illinois.

Developing solar on former mining lands is increasing clean energy use in many states, including Kentucky, where the 200MW Martin County Solar Project is being constructed on 1,200 acres of the former Martiki coal mine site, and construction is set to employ displaced coal workers. In 2019, The Nature Conservancy developed a Roadmap for Solar on Mine Lands, which reports that there are up to 400,000 acres of former mine lands and other brownfields that could be suitable for large-scale solar across central Appalachia. If this land area were harnessed for solar development, it could double the total solar capacity installed in the US to date, according to the 2019 report.

Jim Grech, president and CEO of Peabody made it clear that the company is not abandoning coal for renewables. “We are pleased to announce this new joint venture as part of Peabody’s commitment to be the coal producer of choice, creating additional value from our existing assets, supporting our own and our customers’ ESG ambitions and providing added economic benefits for the communities in which we work and live,” said Grech.

John Jones has been appointed CEO of  R3 Renewables, having worked in the independent power industry for 30 years including senior roles at renewable industry leaders GE EFS, Lincoln Clean Energy (now Ørsted North America Onshore) and Invenergy. d the world. For more information, please visit www.summitpartners.com.

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