Saturday, January 29, 2011

Trash Today, Electricity Tomorrow

The first solar energy landfill project is under way in DeKalb County, just north of Atlanta, Georgia. The landfill is converting garbage into a power-producing solar energy farm. What may look like a giant green tarp is actually an enhanced geo-membrane liner. The liner is placed on the surface of the landfill and then covered with solar panels. The panels measure 15 inches wide, 18 feet long, and a quarter of an inch thick. David Stuart of Georgia's Republic Services, says that they are expecting to produce 1 MW of power from the landfill. This is enough power to produce energy for 150 homes. Once the project is complete, more than ten acres of the landfill will be used to produce energy.
This process does not interrupt with the landfill's natural process of breaking down garbage, but can also produce solar energy while capturing the landfill gas to heat homes. The EPA estimates that there are more than 100,000 closed landfills in the US. Under those landfills are about 100,000 acres that have the potential to also produce energy.
The test site for the project was created in San Antonio; however, the site in Georgia is around seven times the size of the original test sight.


1 comment:

  1. This is a great use of a landfill. I had read about trapping methane for local electricity generation, but had not read about coupling solar panels on top of a landfill. I would be interested in what the life expectancy of the system is. Another aspect to all of this is reducing the waste stream going in as a lot of energy goes into the production and use of what became waste, and minimizing this reduces the need for energy and also has a positive effect.