Oct 16, 2008
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a Google Earth-based interactive website that pinpoints opportunities for solar, wind or biomass siting on contaminated properties. The site combines the Google Earth platform with an EPA database that lists each property’s attributes for renewable energy development.
According to the EPA, many lands tracked by the agency, such as large Superfund sites, and mining sites offer thousands of acres of land, and may be situated in areas where the presence of wind and solar structures are less likely to be met with aesthetic, and therefore political, opposition.
Many EPA tracked lands are in areas where traditional redevelopment may not be an option because the site may be remote, or have difficult environmental conditions that are not well suited for traditional redevelopment such as residential or commercial.
These EPA tracked lands also have key infrastructure already in place. Existing electric transmission lines and capacity, as well as roads, criss-cross many of the landscapes. In addition, most of the areas are adequately zoned for such development.
There are approximately 480,000 sites and almost 15 million acres of potentially contaminated properties across the United States that are tracked by EPA.
Maps for these six types of energy, as well as non-grid connected wind and photovoltaic solar energy, for the entire nation are also available:
* EPA Tracked Sites with Utility Scale Wind Energy Generation Potential
* EPA Tracked Sites with Community Wind Energy Generation Potential
* EPA Tracked Sites with Utility Scale Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Energy Generation Potential
* EPA Tracked Sites with Utility Scale Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Energy Generation Potential
* EPA Tracked Sites with Biopower Facility Siting Potential
* EPA Tracked Sites with Biorefinery Facility Siting Potential
* EPA Tracked Sites with Non-Grid Connected Wind Energy Generation Potential
* EPA Tracked Sites with Non-Grid Connected Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Energy Generation Potential
Sun + Water = Fuel
With catalysts created by an MIT chemist, sunlight can turn water into hydrogen. If the process can scale up, it could make solar power a dominant source of energy.
Storing energy from the sun by mimicking photosynthesis is something scientists have been trying to do since the early 1970s. In particular, they have tried to replicate the way green plants break down water. Chemists, of course, can already split water. But the process has required high temperatures, harsh alkaline solutions, or rare and expensive catalysts such as platinum. What Nocera has devised is an inexpensive catalyst that produces oxygen from water at room temperature and without caustic chemicals--the same benign conditions found in plants. Several other promising catalysts, including another that Nocera developed, could be used to complete the process and produce hydrogen gas.