Coal mines with solar energy are starting to happen. Partnering with Mineral Gap Data Centers, Sun Tribe Solar, based in Charlottesville, proposed a solar project on the Wise County site in Virginia, that would not just provide up to 3.5 megawatts of renewable power to the on-site data centers, and decrease the centers’ operating budget, it would also set an notable example. The project received the full $500,000 in federal funds the developers had requested late last year.
“Today, we’re one step closer to making this project a reality,” noted Taylor Brown, Sun Tribe Solar’s chief technical officer.
“We see this as the opening act for solar power and renewables in Wise County and all of southwestern Virginia.”
The Sun Tribe-Mineral Gap proposal was one of 19 mine land-related reuse applications submitted for Federal funding and was allotted the amount through the federal Abandoned Mine Land Pilot Program, which is aimed at reclaiming mine lands and boosting economies in Appalachia.
Expected to hire about 26 employees during the engineering and construction phases, and offer students in the solar training program at Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, hands-on experience with part of the project, the project is a great example of just how renewable energy can do good for the planet while also providing jobs.
It is also just the beginning
The Abandoned Mine Land Pilot Program was launched in 2016 and funded with U.S. Treasury money. By 2017, the total budget jumped to $105 million and expanded to Virginia, Ohio and Alabama. For the more than 71,000 acres affected by coal mining in Virginia, that is great news.
And it is also great news for the rest of us. Coal mines with solar energy is a must for a greener world. As Devin Welch, Sun Tribe’s chief strategy officer, explains, “We’re confident that this is just the beginning.”
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