Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii and Colorado are among the growing number of states finding a new use for capped landfills. Instead of letting the tens of acres turn into an unusable wasteland -- suitable perhaps as a backdrop for a movie set in a futuristic dystopia -- these states are installing solar panels.
In Canton, Mass., for example, Southern Sky Renewable Energy is installing a 15-acre field of solar panels atop the town's 40-acre landfill. The project, expected to generate up to $70 million in savings and revenue over the next 25 years, will be the largest solar photovoltaic facility in New England to date. Not only that, but Southern Sky estimates that the project will create 25 temporary construction jobs and 90 permanent jobs.
PLANETGREEN: Do You Know Where Your Trash Goes? MIT Does. Watch the slideshow.
Building a solar panel farm on this otherwise unusable land is a great idea for many reasons, points out getsolar.com:
... if formerly home to industrial activity, is sometimes in close proximity to electricity transmission lines. Both factors help reduce project costs, which is good for both developers and electricity buyers. Moreover, making use of marginal land is often preferable to using high-value land that could otherwise be used for farming or other productive activities.
The state's Solar Renewable Energy Certificates program, which has the goal of producing 250 megawatts of solar power by 2017, has inspired more than the Canton project; the Massachusetts towns of Fairhaven and Greenfield are also building solar arrays on their landfills.
Bill S-2126 in New Jersey is inspiring similar projects in the Garden State, as well. It makes it possible to build solar power facilities -– or wind farms, due to a recent amendment -– on top of landfills. Just six out of the 90 acres of landfill in Glouchester, NJ, will soon be powering 1,100 homes for an whole year, according to the blog at getsolar.com.