Waste Advantage Magazine

Solar energy landfill caps

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Things weren’t going well at the Erewhon Landfill. It was time to close the facility, and there was no soil left onsite for construction of the cap. Erewhon was a County facility, and the money available for 30 years of post-closure gas monitoring, groundwater sampling and reporting, erosion repairs and maintenance of a grass cover was sorely needed elsewhere. The landfill manager recalled hearing about solar energy at closed sites, and when he started looking into it, he realized that here was a solution to his problem. With help from various experts, he was able to permit an alternative closure design using an exposed geomembrane cover. This concept allows a geomembrane to be placed directly over the interim soil cover, and sidesteps the considerable expense of importing soils for construction of an impermeable liner and the required protective soil cover. He wouldn’t have to worry about establishing or maintaining grass, or repairing erosion damage in the cap.

This was just the beginning. The manager was also able to install flexible solar panels on cap by adhering them directly to the exposed geomembrane cover. He found that there was all kinds of money available, in the form of grants, incentives and tax breaks, to help him defray the capital costs, and that the income from the sale of clean, renewable solar power defrayed his post-closure costs, covered his capital costs with a reasonable payback time and enhanced the County’s image as a trailblazer in energy independence and sustainable development.

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