US coal company Peabody Energy has launched a joint venture with Riverstone Credit Partners and Summit Partners Credit Advisors to develop more than 3.3GW of solar and 1.6GW of battery storage capacity over the next five years.

From pv magazine USA

Peabody Energy, a coal company that serves customers in more than 25 countries, has launched R3 Renewables LLC, a renewables developer that will initially focus on building six potential projects on large tracts of land near unused coal mining sites in Indiana and Illinois.

In a joint venture with Riverstone Credit Partners and Summit Partners Credit Advisors, R3 Renewables plans to develop more than 3.3GW of solar PV and 1.6GW of battery storage capacity over the next five years. Peabody Energy said the sites are in close proximity to grid interconnection points, and claimed that the portfolio has the potential to facilitate the development of the largest solar and battery storage projects in Indiana and Illinois.

Developing solar on former mining sites is increasing clean energy use in many US states, including Kentucky, where the 200MW Martin County solar project is being constructed on 1,200 acres at the former Martiki coal mine site. In 2019, The Nature Conservancy developed a “Roadmap for Solar on Mine Lands,” which reports that there are up to 400,000 acres of former mining sites and other brownfield locations that could be suitable for large-scale solar across central Appalachia. If this land area is harnessed for solar development, it could double the total solar capacity installed in the United States to date, according to the 2019 report.

Jim Grech, the president and CEO of Peabody Energy, said that the company is not abandoning coal for renewables.

“We are pleased to announce this new joint venture as part of Peabody’s commitment to be the coal producer of choice, creating additional value from our existing assets, supporting our own and our customers’ ESG ambitions and providing added economic benefits for the communities in which we work and live,” said Grech.

John Jones, who has been appointed CEO of  R3 Renewables, has worked in the independent power industry for 30 years. He has held senior roles at GE EFS, Lincoln Clean Energy (now Ørsted North America Onshore), and Invenergy.