Using fossil fuels to generate electricity produces harm to the environment. This not only includes plumes of smoke and carbon monoxide added to the air, but also barren wastelands where tons of coal were removed from the Earth’s crust. Once a coal mine shuts down, the workers and inhabitants move on, with the site nowhere near what it used to be. Reclamation takes decades, or even longer. Nevertheless, people have found a way to take such barren sites and make them useful again – ironically, by building solar power farms.
Reclaiming Lost Land
The Hobet surface mine site in southern West Virginia was a mountaintop removal mine, meaning the operators systematically removed the top of the mountain to reach the coal seams underneath. The debris and other waste material was dumped into nearby hollows and streams, creating “valley fills.” The Hobet mine actively produced coal for over 40 years, but since 2015 it’s been defunct. The site is a barren land surrounded by Appalachian trees and mountains. Satellite images provide a sobering reminder of what remains after coal mining.
Seeking to make the best out of a bad situation, a new company gained approval from the State of West Virginia to build a solar project on the Hobet mine site. It will be the largest solar project in the state, with a projected 250-megawatt capacity over 3,000 acres. This will increase the state’s photovoltaic output tenfold! Along with the solar farm, companies plan to add industry, lodging, hospitality, and recreation venues in the immediate area.
Continuing the Work
For many decades, coal mining was a powerful industry in America. As energy technology improved and fossil fuel demand went down, the consequences of coal mining are no longer ignored or considered the cost of doing business. Besides reducing the use of coal, renewable energy sources can now reclaim land for use that otherwise would lie desolate. What other deserted or unused areas could be used for solar power production, even here in California? Could we use abandoned quarries, farmland lost to drought, or unused desert for solar power? There are many possibilities for generating photovoltaic electricity. But one of the largest areas of untapped solar potential are the many rooftops in the Golden State — perhaps even yours!
To find out what kind of solar power system would work best with your home, give Solaron a call. We’ll examine your electrical usage, the style and area of your roof, and the amount of available sunlight. You might not be located next to an abandoned coal mine, but we can certainly help you find use for your roof with solar energy!