Virginia is Leading a Revolution in Land Use: Solar Redevelopment
Growing doubts about the suitability of greenfields, forests and farmland for solar power are shifting census towards reusing previously developed land, and Virginia is leading efforts to encourage a revolution in solar energy redevelopment.
Passing the recent legislative session, for example, Delegate Michael Webert's House Bill 206 requires the state analyze impacts of solar projects affecting 50+ acres of forested land or 10+ acres of prime agricultural soils, and require developers offset or mitigate such impacts.
The new bill raises questions about the future of forest and farmland development, but Virginia has already been hard at work for many years developing alternative solar development pathways with policies and practices to encourage the redevelopment of previously impacted lands. The Virginia Departments of Environmental Quality (Virginia DEQ) and Energy (Virginia Energy) have led the way towards such land recycling, with staff and programs in place to catalyze reuse projects that are capable of generating economic development and environmental benefit in equal measure.
Thus, not only is Virginia a national leader in overall solar growth, it is blazing a new redevelopment pathway and building bipartisan consensus. As a result, the Commonwealth is leading this cutting-edge category with numerous solar redevelopments on some of its most challenged land, including old mines, brownfields and landfills, where it makes economic and environmental sense to recycle land otherwise unusable.
Recent work by Virginia Energy estimates Virginia may have as much as 125,000 acres of previously mined land suitable for solar redevelopment. And new programs are focusing Virginia's efforts towards reuse, including a powerful new grant program.
Next month, Virginia DEQ and Virginia Energy are collaborating to co-host the 2022 Virginia Solar Summit, the county's largest solar energy and economic development conference, to help activate the burgeoning solar redevelopment space. Happening at the historic Altria Theater in Richmond April 27 and 28, this immersive conference experience includes illuminating educational programming and interactive sessions led by world-class experts, including leading state and federal agency staff.
Featuring experts such as Meade Anderson, Brownfields & Voluntary Remediation Program Manager at Virginia DEQ, Daniel Kestner, Innovative Reclamation Program Manager at Virginia Energy, and Patricia Overmeyer, Deputy Director of U.S. EPA's Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization, the educational opportunities at the 2022 Virginia Solar Summit are exceptional. A feature session will showcase the Cumberland Forest Project, one of the largest mine-land solar redevelopments and conservation projects on the planet, and a groundbreaking collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, Dominion Energy and Sun Tribe Development.
Learn more and register at: http://virginiasolarsummit.com/