Solar Panels Power Contaminated Groundwater Cleanup

Is there anything that solar power can’t do? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have announced a project to clean up contaminated groundwater at a site in California is the first to be fully powered by solar energy.
   
We’ve reported in the past on initiatives that turn contaminated sites into solar farms, but this project cleans the site itself.
   
At the Frontier Fertilizer Superfund site in Davis, solar power provides the energy for a electrical resistive heating system, where electrodes heat the soil and groundwater to the boiling point of water. Extraction wells collect gas and liquids generated which are then treated with granular activated carbon. 
   
Using solar panels at the site will reduce energy costs by $15,000 annually and avoid over 54 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, while accelerating the cleanup by an estimated 120 years.
   
Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, stated the new treatment plant “sets the benchmark for future actions”.  
   
U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson said “Gains of this magnitude would not have been possible without the innovative use of solar panels to power the cleanup.”
   
The EPA first installed limited solar panels at the site in 2007 to partially offset the electricity requirements for the groundwater treatment system. Last year a $350,000 grant from Recovery Act Funds was used to build onto the solar power system and it now provides all the treatment facility’s electricity needs.
  
The site previously stored agricultural equipment including pesticides and herbicides that leaked into the soil and groundwater, the primary source of drinking water in the area. The project team is evaluating options for the reuse of treated groundwater for irrigation of properties.