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Renewable Energy Optimization in the Heart of Coal Country

In the depths of coal country, one would not expect to find a growing diversified energy economy that includes a healthy mix of renewables. But in Williamson, WV, Sustainable Williamson is bullish on making a change, and hopes to inspire other communities throughout central Appalachia, coal country and the nation.

As part of its non-profit IndieGoGo campaign, Sustainable Williamson created a series of videos that depict a wide array of renewable energy projects that are either successfully deployed in the coalfields or are in the queue for deployment in the near future. It hopes that these projects will provide a working framework for ‘energy optimization’ in the region — transitioning communities from an aging monolithic fossil fuel economy to a rejuvenating diversified energy mix economy without picking winners or losers. This campaign focuses on creating a healthy combination of energies, both fossil and renewbale, that truly establishes an "all of the above" strategy. See the video below: 

Project highlights include:

  1. The Smart-Office acts as the central node that will eventually become a pilot “micro-grid” or virtual power plant (VPP) by integrating a variety of technologies in a manner that allows our team to assess various energy optimization scenarios with the end goal of both net-zero design as well as assessing the relationship between both demand-control and demand-response technologies. With this effort, Sustainable Williamson hopes to identify synergies with West Virginia’s innovative “Super Circuit” project as they are utilizing similar resources on a smaller-scale.
  2. Integrated Energy Parks™ seek to synergistically scale-up a variety of energy resources which include natural gas, coal, solar and biomass. The IEP concept was recently discussed in Sustainable Williamson’s blog by Patriot Bioenergy’s CEO entitled “The Future Requires Integration of Energy Production and Processing.” Roger Ford describes how IEP’s point toward a concrete “All the Above” energy strategy that, if adopted, will position America as a global leader in energy research and development.
  3. Scaling up an innovative pyrolysis biomass technology developed by West Virginia’s very own Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center (MATRIC). To date, laboratory research at Virginia Tech is moving forward with some field studies that will take place throughout 2013 based upon the successful lab trials. If viable, this approach will contribute to the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative in scaling their proven Forest Reclamation Approach (FRA).

In the heart of coal country, many brilliant entrepreneurs are presently laying the framework for a new paradigm in energy development for the coalfields and perhaps the nation. Sustainable Williamson hopes to de-politicize energy and position America as a global leader in developing an energy strategy and policy that is rooted in what it does best: innovation.

Lead image:  Coal mining via Shutterstock

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