OPEL Solar To Rejuvenate Brownfields in the U.S.
The GaAs based solar cell manufacturer will help communities by using barren land to build solar farms to generate renewable energy.
They are called ‘brownfields’ – properties that sit abandoned, idled, and underutilized which include former factories, air strips, and landfills – sometimes contaminated and nearly always a blight on the landscape. Worst of all, these properties are off the tax lists and are nonproductive. In many cases, when communities want to utilize this land, it becomes a daunting task to do so and generally the project gets abandoned.
However, where others see commercial and industrial decay, OPEL Solar, a global supplier of high concentration photovoltaic ("HCPV") solar panels and trackers, sees tremendous opportunity for solar energy. OPEL envisages communities having a means of generating power and giving back clean, green energy to residents.
"Think of it," says Leon M. Pierhal, CEO of OPEL Solar, "There are literally thousands of these properties across the United States just sitting there, producing nothing of substance despite the fact that they are often ideal for commercial solar farms, are sited close to existing power transmission lines, and can be redeveloped without much disturbance."
Continuing to express his vision for this market, Pierhal added, "developing non-impact solutions for brownfields which may include a total 'package' of services such as land assessment, engineering, EPA assistance, remediation or mitigation of the land, installation, utility company cutover and funding or power purchase agreement ("PPA") assistance has been a personal and OPEL Solar corporate goal of 'giving back' for some time."
Pierhal, whose company aims to partner with property remediation companies to put these sites back to work, has good reason to be enthusiastic – the potential is vast. Not only can OPEL's solar panels and tracker systems be mounted atop these sites without disturbing the ground beneath them, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is evaluating brownfields across the country for their renewable energy potential on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Some experts estimate that there may be as many as 4,000 brownfields in the United States, roughly the equivalent of 30,000 football fields. Add in Superfund sites and Resource Conservation and Recover Act sites and the total jumps to more than 14 million acres that could be redeveloped as renewable energy sites.
Pierhal, whose Company has a global reach, takes pride in putting as many people as possible back to work by finding, training and then working with local manufacturers and suppliers. Already in negotiations with several firms, Pierhal states that OPEL Solar anticipates entering into a strategic alliance with a company that specializes in remediation and mitigation of brownfields shortly.
As the commitment to rejuvenate otherwise 'dead' land deepens, a broad spectrum of federal and state government grants, financing and investment incentives are available for redevelopment and remediation of these sites. A sample of the primary federal agencies involved includes: EPA, DOE, Department of Defense, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forestry Services, Bureau of Mines and the Bureau of Reclamation.
OPEL Solar's Washington D.C. team is mobilized to work closely with all agencies, insuring that cities, towns and municipalities continue to have open avenues to the funds available to them to turn the brownfields green with solar power. OPEL's business development group stands ready to work with all the best installation partners across the country to fulfill the goal.
"I can think of few initiatives where so many benefits are derived," Pierhal said. "In addition to putting these brownfields back to work generating renewable energy that goes to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, green jobs are created, the environment is cleaned up, the value of otherwise unusable land increases, and commercial or industrial blight is eliminated. As you might guess, all of us at OPEL Solar are very proud of the true leadership role we are playing to make America energy independent."