Toyota Motor North America has entered into a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) to offtake 100 MW of electricity produced by renewable energy firm Savion’s solar project in Martin County, Kentucky.
The project involves the transformation of the former Martiki Coal Mine, a brownfield site on the border of Kentucky and West Virginia, into a solar photovoltaic energy facility. The facility is being developed in collaboration with local development partner Edelen Renewables. Construction is set to commence in mid-2023, with commercial operation expected in 2024.
“The Martin County Solar Project in Kentucky is really special as an example of how renewable energy VPPAs can bring new opportunities to former coal and energy communities and will help Toyota achieve our goal of increasing purchased renewable electricity to 45 percent or more of our total purchased electricity by 2025,” said David Absher, Senior Manager of Environmental Sustainability at Toyota Motor North America.
The solar project will take close to 1,200 acres of the coal mine site, according to news reports. The power generated could supply the equivalent of about 33,000 residential customers.
Toyota says its acquisition of 100 MW of electricity from the project will primarily serve to reduce the company’s carbon footprint in North America. This move aligns with Toyota’s broader objective of achieving carbon neutrality across all its North American operations by 2035.
“It is important that renewable power is more available to large-scale U.S. energy buyers, and converting brownfields like this offers a path forward for former energy communities to take advantage of the infrastructure they already have with transmission lines while providing clean energy to the grid,” Absher added.
Last summer, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a Request for Information for the $500 million Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land, which is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The program will fund clean energy projects on mine land that will benefit the communities by creating good paying jobs and reducing carbon emissions, according to the DOE.
The former mines can include once operational coal, uranium, zinc and other element sites. There are estimates of as many as 500,000 abandoned mines in our nation, according to government estimates.
Coal giant Peabody Energy also launched a new company called R3 Renewables LLC, pursuing development of solar and battery storage capacity in near-term projects. The R3 joint venture is teamed with financial firms Riverstone Credit Partners and Summit Partners Credit Advisors.