Former U.S. nuclear weapon test site to host solar energy projects


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its first proposed projects under its Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, which seeks to repurpose DOE-owned lands into clean energy generation centers. 

The proposed projects include development on former nuclear weapons testing sites operated by the Idaho National Laboratory. DOE will enter lease negotiations for solar projects within the 890-square-mile site. 

DOE plans to support the development of 400 MW of solar capacity at the site, or enough to power about 70,000 homes. 

“Tens of thousands of acres of DOE-owned land across the nation are being transformed into thriving centers of carbon-free power generation,” said U.S. Energy of Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm. “Working closely with community leaders and private sector partners, we’re cleaning up land once used in our nuclear deterrence programs and deploying the clean energy solutions we need to help save the planet and strengthen our energy independence.”  

The Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative was launched in July 2023. The program dovetails with President Biden’s climate goals and responds to the directive in Executive Order 14057  and the accompanying Federal Sustainability Plan. 

Executive Order 14057 calls for federal agencies to achieve 100% clean energy by 2030 and authorizes them to use land for development of clean energy generation via leases, grants, permits, and other mechanisms. 

For the two developers with selected proposals Idaho National Laboratory site, NorthRenew Energy Partners proposed to install more than 300 MW of solar along with battery energy storage on approximately 2,000 acres. Spitfire proposed to install 100 MW of solar plus battery energy storage on about 500 acres of the site.  

DOE said it plans to open subsequent opportunities for the Idaho National Laboratory site. 

DOE has also issued requests for qualifications (RFQs) to lease land at four additional sites, including the Hanford site in Washington; the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico; the Nevada National Security Site in Nevada; and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. DOE plans to announce additional selections this year. 

More information on the Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative can be found here.

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