Brownfields are spaces that were used for some industrial production which have left the ground useless for nearly everything – even nature. Gas stations, refineries, and other chemical-intensive buildings tend to ruin the ground beneath their buildings once they close. The fields tend to have too high a concentration of heavy metals or other hazards to humans, plants, and animals.
The Obama administration has proposed that brownfields across the USA be turned into places that house green energy production. Since people don’t like cutting down trees for windmills why not put the windmills where the trees can’t grow?
“In the next decade there’s going to be a lot of renewable energy built, and all that has to go somewhere,” said Jessica Goad, an energy and climate change policy fellow for The Wilderness Society. “We don’t want to see these industrial facilities placed on land that’s pristine. We love the idea of brownfields for renewable energy development because it relieves the (development) pressure on undisturbed places.”
There are many contaminated sites nationwide to choose from.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have identified nearly 4,100 contaminated sites deemed economically suitable for wind and solar power development, as well as biomass. Similar maps are expected to be released this month for contaminated sites with geothermal-power potential.
Included in the 4,100 sites are 5 million acres suitable for photovoltaic or concentrated solar power development, and 500,000 acres for wind power. These sites, if fully developed, have the potential to produce 950,000 megawatts – more than the country’s total power needs in 2007, according to EPA data.