Greener Cleanups and Renewable Energy
EPA is identifying methods to achieve the Superfund Green Remediation Strategy (PDF) (32pp, 246K, About PDF) goal of using 100 percent renewable energy to power Superfund site operations. This goal may be achieved in different ways, mainly through:
- buying renewable energy certificates (RECs),
- onsite production of renewable energy, and
- purchasing local green power.
Why is this 100 percent renewable energy goal important? Traditional methods to power site operations may use coal, natural gas, or diesel, which result in some level of pollution. Using renewable energy results in little to no pollution or greenhouse gas emissions and allows for the conservation of natural resources.
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)
What is a REC? A REC represents the environmental benefits (such as reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, conservation of natural resources) associated with generating one megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity from a renewable energy source.
The Superfund program made its first purchase of 100,000 renewable energy certificates (RECs) for 2012 from the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for electricity used during remediation at fund-financed sites (where the cleanup is paid for out of Superfund appropriations). These RECs are generated from wind farms constructed in 2009 or later in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota and are Green-e certified .
This Green-e certification ensures that no double counting of RECs has occurred (the RECs are only assigned once to the Superfund program), that the RECs originate from new projects (all of the facilities for the national bulk purchase started operation in 2009 or later), and that the RECs are generated by operating wind farms.
With the assistance of annual output emission rates and EPA's greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator, EPA estimates that this purchase of 100,000 RECs will help avoid a similar amount of greenhouse gas emissions as those produced by:
- approximately 18,000 passenger vehicles annually, or
- the carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity use of about 11,000 average American homes each year.
Onsite Renewable Energy
What is onsite renewable energy? Onsite renewable energy means that a renewable energy source exists on the Superfund site (such as a wind turbine or a solar panel) that helps power the cleanup.
EPA is constructing onsite renewable energy systems to directly power cleanup equipment or offset grid-supplied power used at Superfund sites. Ground water cleanup at the Frontier Fertilizer (PDF) (1p, 313K, About PDF) Superfund Site in Davis, CA, for example, is powered by 100 percent renewable energy through solar power. Other examples of onsite renewable energy systems include:
- wind power at the former Nebraska Ordnance Plant in Nebraska,
- hydropower at the Summitville Mine site in Colorado,
- geothermal energy at the Lawrence Aviation Industries (PDF) (5pp, 1.22MB, About PDF) site in Port Jefferson Station, NY, and
- landfill gas at the Operating Industries, Inc. Landfill site in California.
Local Green Power
What is local green power? Local green power gives customers the ability to select renewable energy supply options from their local electricity provider.
For Superfund sites, EPA may purchase other forms of green power where onsite production of renewable energy is technically or economically infeasible or cannot meet the full electricity demand of the cleanup. Green power is purchased directly from a utility through a green pricing program. In states with restructured electricity markets, renewable energy is also purchased from competitive providers of electricity.
- Green Remediation
- Other Renewable Energy
- Related Resources