Graham Sustainability Institute

Brownfields and Solar Development

April 2020

Many utility companies, such as DTE and Consumers Energy, are looking to expand solar energy production on brownfields to reach Michigan’s renewable electricity standard of 15% renewables by 2021. Brownfields are contaminated land areas that are difficult or impossible to use for farmland, residential, or commercial development. While there are benefits to using brownfields, several challenges exist with renewable energy development on brownfields. Working with the Michigan Land Bank Authority, A Dow Sustainability Fellows student team developed some potential solutions to recognize the environmental and economic benefits of solar development on brownfields. The team performed interviews with key stakeholders that hold a wide range of knowledge related to the electricity sector, brownfields, and solar energy development in Michigan. They created explicit recommendations and four case studies for the Michigan Land Bank Authority that they anticipate will contribute to the conversation around brownfields and help Michigan achieve specific environmental goals.

Location: Michigan
Project Advisor: Dr. Sarah Mills
Project Team: Kseniya Husak, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; Genevieve Sertic, College of Engineering (COE); Claire Dodinval COE and School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS); Brian Schaap, Law School SEAS