BLM infuses $3.5 million for cutting-edge clean energy use on public lands
Inflation Reduction Act Funding Bolsters Research Partnership with National Renewable Energy Laboratory
WASHINGTON – Today, the Bureau of Land Management announced a $3.5 million partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), to advance renewable energy research and new technologies on public lands. Using funding provided as part of the President’s Investing in America agenda by the Inflation Reduction Act, the BLM will leverage NREL’s research and technical expertise to support environmentally-sound public lands renewable energy development.
The Inflation Reduction Act provides $1 billion to help strengthen and accelerate federal permitting and environmental reviews, including through enhanced data and analytics. Today’s announcement is one way the Biden-Harris administration is harnessing these resources to help achieve the goal of a carbon-free power sector by 2035, as well as Congress’ direction in the Energy Act of 2020 to permit at least 25 gigawatts of solar, wind and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025.
“Our partnership with NREL is key to supporting President Biden’s call to achieve a clean energy future,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “This funding will help us use cutting-edge modeling to ensure balanced, responsible development of renewable energy sources.”
"To reach our clean energy goals, we must use every resource at our disposal," said NREL Director Martin Keller. "I am excited for this opportunity to advance our mission by building on our work with the Bureau of Land Management and supporting projects that further integrate renewable energy into the grid."
The BLM already works closely with NREL to support the development of renewable energy on public lands. Existing funding agreements between the BLM and NREL support key planning efforts like the BLM’s ongoing update to the 2012 Western Solar Plan as well as providing technical assistance for project planning, design and environmental reviews. The BLM also works with NREL for environmental and technical reviews that support the development of transmission infrastructure and interconnect lines that bring renewable energy to the grid.
This latest round of BLM funding will ensure the agency continues to bring the best available technological and environmental research into the planning, permitting and monitoring of geothermal, wind and solar developments on public lands. This funding will run through 2025 and allow NREL to work on several priority activities including:
Providing geothermal data analytics and research to advance geothermal technology and methods that ensure environmentally sound development;
Addressing barriers and opportunities of siting solar and wind technologies as standalone plants or as hybrid facilities;
Assessing the potential of battery storage, hydrogen production and pumped storage hydroelectric power; and
Analyzing the potential buildout of solar, wind, geothermal and transmission facilities with the greatest potential and the fewest conflicts with other resources.
The BLM is currently processing 74 utility-scale onshore clean energy projects proposed on public lands in the western United States. This includes solar, wind and geothermal projects, as well as interconnected gen-tie lines that are vital to clean energy projects proposed on non-federal land. These projects have the combined potential to add over 37,000 megawatts of renewable energy to the western electric grid. The BLM is also undertaking the preliminary review of over 150 applications for solar and wind development, as well as 51 applications for wind and solar energy testing.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.