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An Old Coal Mine May Become The Largest Solar Farm In Kentucky

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The U.S., particularly the Appalachian region, still gets a lot of its power from coal. Today, however, the shift from coal to renewables is well under way… even in the heart of coal country.

Take Kentucky, for example, which ranks fourth among U.S. states when it comes to total coal production. Solar has been making steady gains there in recent years, and now plans are underway to bring a massive, new solar farm to Pike County. It could have ten times the capacity of Kentucky’s largest current installation, and it’ll likely be set up on the site of an old coal mine.

Kentucky.com has reported on the new project, which would reportedly span hundreds of acres of the disused mountaintop strip mine. Berkeley Energy Group and EDF Renewable Energy are in the very early stages of planning, but they’re shooting for a total capacity of 50 and 100 megawatts. Today, the state’s top solar farm is capable of producing about 10 megawatts.

EDF is already involved in several other projects on the go in the U.S. They’re in 27 states and represent a good chunk of the 10 gigawatts the company is currently building in the Americas.

Adam Edelen, whose company Edelen Strategic Ventures is involved in the Kentucky project, says that one of its goals is to provide jobs to unemployed coal miners. Production in Pike County reportedly dropped 40% from 2015 to 2016, and in the first quarter of last year, the total number of coal jobs in Kentucky fell to its lowest level in nearly 120 years.

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