A Kentucky coal company announced that it is planning to build a solar farm on a reclaimed mountaintop removal coal mine and that the project would bring both jobs and energy to the area. The company says the farm will give jobs to displaced coal miners.
Berkeley Energy Group, the coal company behind the project, billed it as the first large-scale solar farm in the Appalachian region, which has been hit hard by the decades-long decline in the U.S. coal industry. The company, in partnership with EDF Renewable Energy, is currently conducting feasibility studies for the project on two reclaimed strip mines, both located in the eastern part of the state. Berkeley Energy Group estimates that the solar farm could produce as much as 50 to 100 megawatts of electricity, which would be five to ten times the size of Kentucky’s largest solar farm.
Berkeley Energy Group’s project development executive told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the company did not intend to replace its coal production with the solar farm, but instead viewed the project as a chance to reclaim used land while creating job growth in the area.
Kentucky would hardly be the first deep-red state to embrace large-scale renewable energy. Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma are the top three states in the country when it comes to installed wind capacity, and when it comes to solar, North Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada are the second, third, and fourth states in the nation with regards to installed solar capacity.