What do you do with a coal mine when the coal runs out?
In Pikeville Kentucky, deep in the heart of the place where ‘coal is king’, the answer may be turn it into a solar farm. This on the heels of the news that the Kentucky Coal Museum will be running on solar power.
While the public imagination often conjures up images of black-faced men in dungarees and hard hats with headlamps coming out of a deep tunnel, about 40% of coal in Kentucky is surface mined where the top of the mountain is taken off to reveal the coal and earth moving machines can remove the material fairly easily.
When the mine is spent, the owners are legislated into recovering the open pit, seeding vegetation and bringing it back as close as they can to how it was found.
But the Berkeley Energy Group and EDF Renewable Energy are looking at an alternate. The surface of the mines is usually fairly flat, to facilitate easy removal of the coal with trucks and other machines, so the companies think it may be feasible to cover the area with solar panels.
The companies are currently doing geotechnical analysis with construction due to start in 2018 when mining ends on the site. Expectation is that this former coal mine could generate 50 – 100 megawatts of clean solar power, making it not just the largest solar farm in coal country, but one of the largest solar farms anywhere east of the Mississippi River.
Read more at Appalachian Voices
Photo Composition: Coal Mine: Berkeley Energy Group – Solar Panel Photoshop: 7minutesolar