Anywhere the  Sun Shines:
Developing  Solar Energy on  Contaminated  Land
Solar electricity in the United States is developing in some
unexpected places. Utility scale solar energy generation has
recently undergone a growth spurt in areas with low and moderate
solar resource levels, particularly in New England and the Mid-
Atlantic region (e.g., New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.).
Most often this development occurs in states that have a
renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires a certain
portion of electricity to be generated from renewable energy
sources, and especially in states that specify what portion must
come from solar resources. When coupled with incentive programs
targeting solar development, solar electricity generation is
projected to develop rapidly over the next 20 years. Solar projects
that otherwise would not be built are now viable due to state policy
and local  market drivers.

Siting Solar Energy on Contaminated Land
and Mining Sites
With increased demand for electricity generated from solar
resources, the search is on for viable sites across the country.
The U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Solid
Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) Center for Program
Analysis (OCPA) is encouraging renewable energy development
on potentially contaminated land and mining sites by identifying
sites with solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and landfill gas
energy potential.
Many contaminated sites are located in areas with excellent
potential for the development of photovoltaic (PV) solar electricity
generation. The viability of utility-scale solar energy at a site is
typically linked to the area's solar resource, which is largely a
function of latitude and weather. As such, at a national level, the
southwestern United States is recognized as having excellent
potential for the development of solar energy (see map).
However, state policies and incentives specifically encouraging
the development of a solar power industry make it a possibility
anywhere, including lower solar resource areas like the
Mid-Atlantic region.
              Figure 1: U.S. Solar Resource Availability
                PV Solar Installation, Bucks County, PA

In EPA Region 3 (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia,
Washington, D.C. and  West Virginia), EPA has identified more
than 5,000 sites and 1.2 million acres of potentially contaminated
properties and abandoned mine sites with potential suitability for
PV solar generation facilities.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that PV
solar development, which is the best-suited solar technology for
low solar resource areas, requires two to  12 acres of land per
megawatt of installed capacity. A study of RPS legislation by
Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that in the 14 states with a
current RPS, installed solar capacity is expected to grow from 550
to 6,700 megawatts between 2010 and 2025,  requiring thousands
of acres of land. Siting renewable energy facilities, including solar
facilities, on potentially contaminated land and mining sites can
reduce pressure on greenfields for siting these facilities.
In addition, developing solar facilities on contaminated or
abandoned mine land can provide an economically viable reuse
option for sites with significant cleanup costs or if local economic
conditions prohibit traditional reuse of the site. These sites may
also have existing transmission capacity,  roads and other critical
infrastructure in place,  as well as industrial zoning adequate for
renewable energy projects.
     Figure 2: Utility Scale PV Solar Generation Potential of Potentially
    Contaminated Lands and Mining Sites in Southeastern Pennsylvania
                                                                                                        it (Proposed)
                                                                                                           Bucks County
                                                                                                           Solar Project
                                                                                                     Philadelphia Navy Yard

Renewable Portfolio Standards and Solar Energy Generation
Regardless of solar resource availability, no solar energy project
is likely to take place if it does not make economic sense. State
policies designed to spur solar energy development can drive
demand for solar energy  and compensate for lower solar resource
availability. These policy and market drivers include: renewable
portfolio standards and solar shares; electricity market conditions;
consistent public support for renewable energy development; state
and local incentives; and  promotion of renewable energy as an
engine of economic development and job creation.

Renewable portfolio standards and solar shares—Solar energy
development is expected to grow primarily in the 14 states that
have established an RPS with a solar share. The RPS requires
a portion of electricity to be generated from renewable energy
sources and a solar share specifies what potion must come from
solar resources. An electric power provider can achieve this by
either producing a certain amount of its electricity from solar
resources or by purchasing solar renewable energy certificates
(RECs). A large share of the projected growth of solar energy is
in states with low to moderate solar resource levels because they
have RPS and solar share policies (see Figure 3). In these  states,
solar energy is expected to grow from an estimated 260 megawatts
of installed capacity in 2010 to over 5,100 megawatts by 2025,
based on the RPS and solar share policies currently in place.

Electricity market conditions—Electricity pricing  is based  on the
location  of power generation relative to demand and transmission
constraints. Geographic areas that have a strong demand for
solar generated electricity (e.g., states with strong RPS and solar
share requirements), but  not much installed capacity, may find
solar energy generation more profitable. The sale of these tradable
RECs, which are issued for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours of solar
electricity generated, creates a revenue stream that can be used to
finance additional solar PV installations in those states. In addition,
in areas of high transmission line congestion,  electricity prices can
rise, making solar energy more competitive.

Consistent public support for renewable energy development-
State  policies must recognize that solar markets cannot fulfill
future RPS mandates without clear, predictable, long-term
government support. Research shows that areas with strong local
and state government support, as well  as strong public support,
are more likely to see solar development due  to a  reduction
in major investment risk factors such as public opposition and
permitting times.
                      Figure 3: RPS-driven Demand for Solar Electricity in Selected States,
                                          2010 and 2025
New Hampshire
District of Columbia
North Carolina
New Jersey
2025 EH



500 1,000 1,500
                    Renewable Portfolio Standard
                    State-level requirement that electric power providers generate or purchase
                    a specified percentage of the power they supply or sell from renewable
                    energy resources by a target date.

                    Solar Share
                    May be included in state RPS to require a portion of an electric provider's
                    electricity come from solar resources.
                  State and local incentives—Targeted state and local incentive
                  programs provide a combination of low cost loans, grants or tax
                  incentives to reduce the startup and operating costs of utility scale
                  solar installations. Combined with federal programs such as the
                  30 percent Federal  Investment Tax Credit, state incentives abate
                  considerably the effective cost of installing new solar capacity.

                  Promotion of renewable energy as economic development-
                  Solar panels are subject to breakage when transported over long
                  distances, so economic development policies that encourage
                  local manufacturing can accelerate solar energy development by
                  providing material and capital needs locally, thus bringing down
                  capital costs.

                  With the right mix of targeted policies, utility-scale solar
                  generation is possible anywhere the sun shines. Solar energy
                  generation is poised for growth across the United States and
                  potentially contaminated land and mining sites can provide an
                  ideal location for these facilities.

                  For more information on EPA's RE-Powering America's Land:
                  Renewable Energy on Contaminated Land and Mining Sites,
                  please visit:, or contact EPA
                United States
                Environmental Protection
Anywhere the Sun Shines:
Developing Solar Energy
on Contaminated Land
Solid Waste
and Emergency
Response (5105T)
       May 2009
www. epa. gov/oswer