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DOE partnering with developers to turn former nuclear sites into solar and storage

NorthRenew Energy Partners and Spitfire are proposing solar and battery storage projects to produce 400 MW of clean electricity on the Idaho National Laboratory site.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced it will enter into lease negotiations with two solar energy developers for carbon-free electricity generation projects within the 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site to produce 400 MW of solar power.
The proposed projects are the first selected under the Department’s Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, an effort to repurpose parts of DOE-owned lands, portions of which were previously used in the nation’s nuclear weapons program, into sites of clean-energy generation. The initiative supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to leveraging federal properties to support the buildout of utility-scale clean energy projects.

NorthRenew Energy Partners proposes installing photovoltaics and battery storage to produce more than 300 MW of carbon-free electricity on an approximately 2,000-acre chunk of land on the INL site. Spitfire, the other selected developer, similarly proposes solar plus storage to produce 100 MW on a roughly 500-acre patch of land.

The developers will now start negotiations with DOE to enter into leases for the development of the proposed photovoltaic projects. Before leases are issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time.

“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 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.”

“President Biden directed the Federal Government to use its scale and procurement power, as the nation’s largest energy consumer and land manager, to support the growth of America’s clean energy industry and clean energy jobs, and do so in ways that are good for our taxpayers and our communities,” added Andrew Mayock, federal chief sustainability officer in the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Through DOE’s Cleanup to Clean Energy Initiative, we will spur new clean electricity production, which is good for our climate, our economy, and our national security.”

DOE announced the Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative in July 2023 in response to the directive in Executive Order 14057 and the accompanying Federal Sustainability Plan for agencies to use their properties for the development of new clean electricity generation.
DOE will continue to engage and partner with industry, Tribal nations, communities, stakeholders, regulators, and others to implement a process for further development of clean energy projects on DOE land.

As part of the Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, 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.

DOE also plans to open subsequent RFQs for the INL site to solicit additional generation-ready clean energy projects for the land that remains available at the site. More information on the Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative can be found here.

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