Global environmental non-for-profit The Nature Conservancy has acquired a 253,000 acre expanse of forest in America's central Appalachian Mountains, home to Virginia's 'coal country'.
"We've identified the Appalachians as one of the most important places on Earth for us to do conservation," Nature Conservancy’s Clinch Valley program director, Brad Kreps, told the Washington Post. "We put the Appalachians in a very rare company along with the Amazon, the wild lands of Kenya and the forests of Borneo."
The group plans to turn six abandoned mine sites in the forest into solar farms. The large, flat areas of land left behind by mines are ideal for solar panels. The sites are also close to electrical transmission lines, meaning solar farms can be easily connected to the grid.
The project will deliver the first utility scale solar farms in the region.
"Southwest Virginia and the wider Central Appalachian coal fields have an important role to play in the renewable energy economy. Some of the region's former mined lands are well suited for solar development and by directing development towards these areas it will help us conserve the region's intact forests for wood products, carbon storage, wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation and tourism," Brad explained in a Nature Conservancy blog post.
As we move away from fossil fuels, this project is one example of the creative ways coal mines can be repurposed to drive the renewable energy transition.
Story via: Clean Technica
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