Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gigawatts from solar and wind on mine tailings?

An article published today online in Miller-McCune magazine quotes Blair Loftis, national director of alternative and renewable energy for consulting firm Kleinfelder, as saying its possible that one particular mine in Arizona "with 10,000 acres of waste rock and tailings to produce up to 1 gigawatt of combined solar and wind power, about as much as an average coal-fired power plant." He doesn't say which mine.

The idea of using disturbed lands to host renewable energy plants has gained traction recently and the Arizona BLM office has a new program to pursue it. Mine sites often have the infrastructure in place to expedite development - power transmission, heavy duty roads, water sources, etc.

Univ. of Arizona has two experimental sites, at Biosphere 2 and their Sierrita research/teaching mine where the technology is being tested. [right, Nate Allen, sustainability coordinator at Biosphere 2, explains a demonstration site at Biosphere 2 showing how solar panels can be effectively mounted on steep slopes like mine tailings. Credit, UA]

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