Title page for ETD etd-10032011-163038

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Duerksen, Alek Charles
Author's Email Address duerksen@vt.edu
URN etd-10032011-163038
Title A Feasibility Analysis of Wind Power as an Alternative Post-mining Land Use in Surface Coal Mines in West Virginia
Degree Master of Science
Department Mining and Minerals Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Westman, Erik Christian Committee Chair
Adel, Gregory T. Committee Member
Karfakis, Mario G. Committee Member
Spurgeon, Paul A. Committee Member
  • wind energy
  • mining
  • reclamation
  • post-mining land use
  • sustainability
Date of Defense 2011-09-19
Availability unrestricted
Surface coal mining in West Virginia has supplied energy to the eastern coast of the United States for over a century. Over the years, the coal mining industry has been forced to adapt as societal demands regarding health, safety, and environmental impacts have changed. More recent pressure has called for another iteration of change: long-term post-mining sustainability. The research presented in this thesis investigates one potential solution—or component of a solution—to improve the sustainability of surface coal mining in West Virginia: post-mining wind power.

This thesis intends to demonstrate and explain the feasibility of synergistic mine closure and wind development. Wind conditions at three reclaimed mine sites in West Virginia were monitored in order to develop representative case studies for post-mining wind power. This report contains a summary of the literature consulted to plan the site assessments, the methodology employed to execute them, the analysis steps undertaken to derive conclusions, and a discussion of all findings.

This research has found that significant cost savings can be yielded from synergistic mine closure and wind development, as compared to greenfield wind development. Though wind conditions themselves remain the primary driver for site feasibility, post-mining wind power is a practice with significant promise for improving project economics, contributing to renewable energy development, enhancing company-community relations, providing local employment opportunities, and exemplifying sustainable business practices in Appalachia.

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