Using contaminated land for sustainable technology can be mutually beneficial
Since the United Nations (UN) developed the Paris Agreement in 2015, industries began minimizing their pollution production. They adopted sustainability enhancing practices, using green technology and setting firm regulations. However, some contamination is irreversible or remains present through the centuries.
Companies can support the Paris Agreement by installing renewable energy devices over the lands they contaminated. Placing sustainable technology on top of polluted regions can significantly minimize surface-level and atmospheric degradation.
The first step is assessing where contamination resides and how environmentalists respond.
What Are the Most Contaminated Places on Earth?
Americans increased manufacturing practices during the Industrial Revolution. They used cost-effective materials and fossil-fuel-derived energy to create enough items to meet society’s needs. While facilities effectively achieved production requirements, they generated vast quantities of surface-level pollution.
After evaluating the ecological damage, professionals moved production to less-developed nations, dispersing environmental impacts. Outsourcing manufacturing processes preserved untouched land in the U.S. Unfortunately, much of the previously industrial regions remain polluted.
Some of the most contaminated regions are aquatic. Rivers, like the Mississippi, contain high quantities of pollution, leaving portions unsuitable for human use. Other coastal areas, like the Gulf Coast, hold contaminants from oil spills and shipping waste.
The land where Americans extract oil for energy needs also contains dangerous toxins, making some areas unlivable. Fracking practices push families out of multigenerational homes, and nuclear-ridden sites have similar impacts. Old warzones create unusable land, minimizing society’s access to safe resources and developmental regions.
Environmentalists evaluated the challenges associated with contamination to create sustainable solutions. They place renewable energy devices on top of polluted areas and use unlivable areas to produce emissionless electricity.
Why Environmentalists Are Placing Renewable Tech on Polluted Lands
Repurposing contaminated land for clean energy production can protect people’s health and well-being. Environmentalists are using alternate land functions to move communities out of polluted regions to safe living spaces. Increasing renewable energy development in contaminated areas protects individuals from poor air quality consumption and toxic resources.
People who breathe air with high quantities of greenhouse gas emissions have poor health. It raises an individual’s risk of asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses. Using contaminated regions for clean energy production improves the profitability of the land and helps the government relocate residents.
Environmentalists are also using contaminated lands to produce renewable energy, increasing the available space for solar and wind farms. Currently, government officials plan to strengthen society’s reliance on clean electricity. They also struggle to locate enough land to produce sufficient amounts of green energy.
Power professionals can repower contaminated lands to meet consumers’ electricity demands. The Biden administration hopes to increase society’s reliance on clean energy, minimizing atmospheric degradation. About 80% of the current power supply in America derives from fossil fuels.
During combustion, the fuel sources release greenhouse gases into the environment, changing atmospheric conditions. Earth relies on the atmosphere’s consistent composition to regulate surface-level temperatures and support the global ecosystem.
Greenhouse gases alter the planet’s temperature control process by raising its heat production rate. They also trap excess energy in the atmosphere, filtering it back through the heat development process. Over time, the emissions increase Earth’s temperature.
Energy professionals can decrease emissions and minimize additional environmental contamination by increasing renewable electricity production rates. Placing clean energy systems on top of contaminated land produces various ecological and financial benefits.
Protecting Marine Biodiversity
Environmental engineers and scientists use solar panels to protect contaminated rivers and canals from further destruction. In agricultural regions, growth additives like synthetic fertilizers and pesticides create algal blooms. When algae interact with sunlight and expand, they deplete localized oxygen levels, creating uninhabitable dead zones.
Floatovoltic panels shade water sources from the sun, minimizing algal blooms and decreasing eutrophication. Energy professionals can place the panels on top of unusable areas like contaminated parts of the Mississippi, repowering the region.
Expanding Agricultural Space
Placing renewable energy technology over polluted soil can also repair the land and increase its agricultural growth potential. Solar panels act as sun and wind barriers, increasing soil’s water retention levels and improving degraded regions. They also reduce the demand for irrigation by nearly 20%, reducing water exploitation and additional contamination factors.
Agricultural professionals can additionally improve contaminated land quality by practicing soil remediation. They may remove contaminants and other quality degrading elements to increase conservation efforts. When combined with efficient solar panel use, individuals can significantly decrease atmospheric and surface-level pollution.
Repurposing Contaminated Lands
Another benefit of placing renewable energy devices on top of contaminated land is increasing the quantity of clean electricity in the country. Repowering contaminated land can help America reach its carbon-neutrality goal. When Biden took office, he created a sustainability-enhancing plan to develop a clean electric grid.
The power sector can generate enough emissionless electricity to support the endeavor by repurposing contaminated areas. The repowering practice also protects residents from toxic living environments.
For example, citizens of Picher, Oklahoma, experience adverse effects from old mining practices. The mining industry left chat piles throughout the region, exposing individuals to harmful toxins. Oklahoma has a high compatibility rate with wind power production. Government officials can utilize the profits from the energy sector to clean up chat piles and improve residential safety conditions.
Supporting Landfill Carbon Capturing
Energy professionals can additionally reduce environmental degradation by placing renewable energy devices over landfills. Ecological engineers developed an emission capturing technology that runs on solar power. Landfills produce nearly 17.7% of harmful air pollutants like methane.
Trapping and filtering methane and carbon dioxide is essential to atmospheric conservation. The capturing technology uses photoelectrochemical cells to power the device and extract contaminants from landfills. Over time, the technology can significantly improve environmental conditions, minimizing additional contamination occurrences.
Which Renewable Technology Reduces the Most Industrial Pollution?
Electricity professionals may feel compelled to install clean energy devices over contaminated regions after evaluating the benefits. Determining which technology is the most efficient relies on the industry it supports. Solar panels are suitable with agricultural land, and wind turbines best support industrial regions in the Midwest.
All renewable energy technologies can improve the conservation of Earth’s resources. After finding the best system for a contaminated region, individuals can access government assistance through tax incentives to purchase and install the power production devices. Following the installation process, professionals may experience a reduction in contaminants and improvements in residential health.
Emily Newton is the editor-in-chief of Revolutionized, a magazine exploring how innovations change our world.