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E – 1297 – Solar Power Installations on Closed Landfills

Intended Audience: civil, electrical, environmental, and mechanical engineers involved in solar power generation projects



Estimates for the total number of closed landfills in the United States run as high as 100,000. These landfills are attractive locations for siting solar power installations because 1) landfills are typically in areas where community concerns over aesthetic impacts are less likely, 2) the land often cannot be used for other purposes such as commercial or residential development, and 3) using landfills for solar power installations removes pressure to convert greenfield sites to power production. This course provides an overview of the technical and regulatory facets of constructing solar farms on closed landfills. The different types of solar technologies are discussed, and their suitability for installation on a landfill cap is indicated. General guidance on some of the most common engineering obstacles of landfill reuse is provided. Finally regulatory and liability issues arising from building on a brownfield or Superfund site that has been cleaned up or is undergoing cleanup are discussed.

This course is based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency document, “Solar Power Installations on Closed Landfills: Technical and Regulatory Considerations,” by Gabriel Sampson, September 2009.

Learning Objectives

At the successful conclusion of this course, you’ll be able to identify and discuss:

  • Introduction to ground mounted systems
  • Different solar technologies
  • Solar system weight considerations
  • Wind loading and snow loading
  • Settlement
  • Cover material integrity
  • Side slope stability
  • Renewable energy production on Superfund or brownfield sites
  • Summary of technical complications, challenges, and potential remedies
  • Required permitting
  • Zoning and land use
  • Existing contamination and environmental site investigations
  • CERCLA liability

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