From weapons to clean energy: transforming nuclear sites into solar plants

Through the “Cleanup to Clean Energy” program, U.S. Department of Energy nuclear sites now host solar facilities, marking a significant step toward a cleaner, more independent energy future

Former nuclear weapons production sites in the United States are being transformed into powerful solar power plants, a move that will soon provide clean energy to thousands of homes. This is the quiet revolution of the “Cleanup to Clean Energy” program, which aims to repurpose 70,000 acres for renewable energy projects.

Transitioning from nuclear to solar power

Sites managed by the nuclear weapons division of the U.S. Department of Energy are now hosting solar plants capable of powering thousands of homes. As part of the “Cleanup to Clean Energy” government program, the Idaho National Laboratory, though it never housed nuclear weapons, will soon be home to a 400-megawatt solar plant spread over 2,800 acres. A Massachusetts solar developer has signed a lease for 300 megawatts of solar energy, while another developer secured a lease for 100 megawatts and an additional 500 megawatts of battery storage.

Additional Sites for Clean Energy Projects

Announced in July 2023, the program aims to collaborate with local and indigenous communities, along with private sector partners, to develop some of the world’s largest clean energy infrastructures. As stated by the U.S. Secretary of Energy:

“Through the Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy will repurpose areas once used to protect our national security to generate clean energy, helping to save the planet and safeguard our energy independence.”

The “Cleanup to Clean Energy” program plans to use approximately 70,000 acres of land across five major sites in the United States: the Hanford Site in Washington State, the Nevada National Security Site, the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, and the Idaho National Laboratory. These lands, once used for the development and production of nuclear materials like plutonium and uranium during World War II and the Cold War, are now earmarked for clean energy production through solar, wind, and nuclear projects.


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