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Report: Indiana has a lot of land for solar energy projects

Solar panels behind a fence
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
The report looks into areas that are suitable for solar projects, but also wouldn’t conflict with other natural elements.

A new report shows Indiana has a lot of land space for solar and renewable energy projects.

The Nature Conservancy’s Mining the Sun reportshows the state has many brownfields – or previously used industrial lands – and former coal mining sites that could serve as spots for future solar projects.

Sean Mobley is the senior policy associate for climate and clean energy with the Indiana chapter of The Nature Conservancy. He said the report looks into areas that are suitable for these solar projects, but also wouldn’t conflict with other natural elements.

“It highlighted the different areas around the state where they're suitable for solar in terms of infrastructure, proximity to transmission, as well as they don't conflict with nature or our working in lands and agriculture or forestry,” he said.

Mobley said the report identified a large portion of land area in Indiana that would meet this criteria.

“The Mining the Sun report identified approximately 150,000 acres of mine lands, primarily in southwest Indiana, and 150,000 acres of brownfield sites that are over ten acres in size all across Indiana,” he said.

He said a large focus of the group is making its projects and research community-centered. Mobley said the group took in community input to formulate parts of its report.

“Mining The Sun approaches followed communities to see how they would like to benefit from a project in the area,” he said. “That would mean creating jobs, potentially the addition of outdoor recreation opportunities, or something else beneficial to that community. And we just see Mining The Sun as a potential to avoid conflicts of nature, avoid transitioning acres away from agriculture, because we recognize that we need to feed the world sustainably.”

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Mobley said identifying these potential project areas is a good first step. But he said it will take cooperation and input from state and local governments, and local communities to move forward with projects.

“What we need to do now is to work with state and local units of government in order to, further incentivize, or prioritize these sites for renewable energy development,” he said.

Mobley said there is also the possibility to work with federal funding moving forward.

“A lot of these mine lands, they're in need of reclamation,” he said. “The EPA has millions of dollars available to states to reclaim former mine lands.”

Mobley said he’s hopeful about the demand from statewide companies and clean energy buyers to lower emissions and develop cleaner energy.

Violet is our daily news reporter. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @ComberWilen.