Old Landfills transformed into Solar Farms in the U.S

Officials in the U.S. city of Annapolis found a spacious site for a solar power plant – the old municipal garbage dump, a 62-acre (25-hectare) landfill, which was closed in 1993 and considered useless. Today it is covered with grass and houses over 50,000 solar energy modules with a total capacity of 18 megawatts (MW). 

The Annapolis site was the largest landfill solar project in the U.S.A in 2018 but other cities have seen the potential in turning old landfills into solar parks and have built bigger ones since then. These solar farms have become huge assets to cities to help them meet renewable energy targets and reduce local power bills. They also generate revenue for city by leasing out idle land.

Although landfill solar parks have increased in recent years, industry specialists believe there is still potential to expand further. It has been estimated that there are around 10,000 disused or closed, publicly owned landfills across the United States. Matthew Popkin, a manager with think-tank RMI’s U.S. program who leads its Brightfields Accelerator partnership, together with his team, made an assessment of 4,300 sites. They estimated that 63 gigawatts (GW) of electricity could be produced, which would be enough to power 7.8 million U.S. homes.

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data from February, renewable energy makes up more than 21% of U.S. electricity generation. President Joe Biden set a goal to create a power sector that is carbon pollution-free by 2035. Many cities are therefore trying to hit these targets. Shortages of suitable land is a challenge in the switch to solar and wind power and that is why landfill solar parks are being considered. Currently there are around 300 solar installations on landfills across the United States.

Photo: Annapolis solar landfill park



Author: Sylvia Jacobs

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