Though energy efficiency measures can make a significant impact, our overall energy demand continues to rise. Particularly in and around urban centers, where the information economy is “always on” in more ways than one, our energy mix is evolving.
At the same time, we face the question of how to use the many brownfields and landfills across the country. The high cost and complex considerations of remediation makes many construction uses impractical on these sites.
One practical solution that is rapidly gaining traction in markets from the Northeast to California is building solar farms on these brownfield sites. According to EPA’s Repowering America’s Land Initiative, solar installations on landfills and brownfields have increased from no MWs in 2006 to 173.2 MW in 2015.
The best brownfield candidates for conversion to solar farms are those that are closed, capped and/or have a final remedy in place. Closed sites that don’t need a long lead-time for permits are more attractive to solar developers, who typically want to move quickly. Proximity to infrastructure—power lines, transmission and distribution—is another key criterion to consider.
TRC’s solar landfill successes date back to Massachusetts’ first-ever project of its kind, in Greenfield, and include the recent installation of the groundbreaking PatterSun solar farm in Patterson, NY—the first of its kind in New York. PatterSun’s innovation is in allowing both the solar farm and landfill to coexist, creating a truly dual-purpose facility. TRC also designed solutions to protect the landfill cap and provided landfill oversight during the Sullivan’s Ledge Superfund Landfill solar development and construction in New Bedford, MA.
Today, Massachusetts is among the national leaders of so-called “brightfields,” with dozens of these projects generating more than 78 MW of power across the state. As a result of the groundbreaking successes experienced in Massachusetts, solar on brownfields development efforts are growing in all US markets. These “brownfields to brightfields” conversions create jobs and provide educational opportunities. Most importantly, though, these can generate significant cost savings and clean energy in the local community.
If you’d like to speak more about these types of projects, from site preparation and environmental remediation to construction and maintenance or any other renewable energy questions, please email me.
Rob Jackson will present challenges and solutions for solar on landfills, including a more in-depth discussion of permitting and regulatory variables, at the EUCI Solar Development On Landfills and Brownfields Conference in Philadelphia, PA on January 20-21, 2016.