A report made by Renewable Energy World on Nov. 26, 2012, they stated that with around 10,000 sealed off landfills, there are always new ideas for energy solutions, so this provides for an opportunity for landfill energy projects to utilize the acreage in the form of installing solar arrays. Considering that these landfills have reached capacity, there’s no point in letting them sit idle.
When these landfills have reached their limit of refuse, it’s typically sealed off with a polyethylene material. This is to ensure that the degradation of waste doesn’t leak into the water table. Considering that these sites are unsafe for any kind of residential or commercial use, it had been decided that the one use that could be made at these locations would to be to construct solar photovoltaic arrays.
Advantages of solar energy at landfills
Solar arrays benefit landfills by the fact that it eliminates the need for lawn maintenance and soil replenishment. Also, the elevation of a sealed off landfill is raised up, as if were on a hill. This allows complete exposure to the sun in an area where shade does not exist.
Largest solar array in New England
In Canton, Massachusetts, officials decided with its landfill energy project to develop a sealed, old town dump into the largest solar array in New England.
About 25 years ago, it was sealed off, and now the urge to make use of this site when it envisioned it as green energy potential. At 5.6 megawatts of power, it was expected to generate about $70 million in town revenue and energy savings in the up and coming 25 years.
Hickory Ridge landfill
Just outside of Atlanta,Ga, sits the Hickory Ridge landfill. Just like other landfills, it was capped off after it had reached capacity. Hickory Ridge is a site to behold, because it’s donned with shiny a shiny new 7,000 thin-filmed solar photovoltaic arrays. They are all plastered up against a against this solar cap that encompasses the former landfill.
The solar cap initially costs a significant amount of money due to installation and purchasing of product. Costs for the solar project cost Hickory Ridge around $5 million, but $2 million of that amount was covered by the federal stimulus funding through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.
Napa Valley the next planned solar array
Earlier this year, plans had been made to build the largest interconnected solar project just outside the city of American Canyon. This site is a former landfill as well, and this landfill did take on all trash and garbage from the cities of Napa, Vallejo, and American Canyon, even Napa County.
Preliminary permission to connect to the PG&E grid was reached during the first quarter of 2012 and is contingent upon approval of a 20 to 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with this utility,” said Larry Asera, CEO of the Green Tech Power Group, LLC.
“If the PPA is approved within the next 60-90 days, construction of the $20 million to $25 million solar power micro utility facility could begin this summer.
This 6.7 megawatt solar farm would be able to power 5,000 homes, almost as much as the Fort Bliss, Texas base housing location.
Issues with landfill solar arrays at hand
With all the benefits mentioned and the projects on the horizon. There are certain concerns. As the trash and other items from the landfill settle in, it can sink. Also, the site can produce gases from decomposition of waste material.
After a certain period of time after the solar array is set in place, there would be a need for an environmental assessment of the site. This could lead to a costly situation.
Feasibility studies will be conducted to help come up on which areas of the U.S. Would be best to develop these landfill energy projects. It would just be a method of weighing the benefits and the negatives financially.