Capped landfills are increasingly being repurposed these days for use as solar sites. The land is typically considered a brownfield and cannot be used for much. By locating solar on the site, owners are able to bring in additional income, and find a new use for the land.
Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) is taking advantage of this and has started construction on a 10.14 MW solar farm on the capped Parklands Landfill. The landfill ceased operations in 1989, and has since sat unused. The project, part of PSE&G’s Solar 4 All program, will transform 40 acres of landfill space into a clean-energy producing solar farm, capable of powering nearly 2,000 average-size homes annually.
“Landfills like Parklands offer prime opportunities for large-scale solar development that benefits New Jersey and our customers,” said Joe Forline, vice president of customer solutions at PSE&G. “We can convert this property into a productive asset that adds to New Jersey’s inventory of renewable energy resources without reducing the state’s open space. And by connecting projects like this directly to the electric grid, we ensure that all of our electric customers are sharing in the benefits of solar generation.”
Reclaiming brownfields and landfills has been a centerpiece of PSE&G’s Solar 4 All program, and the Parklands site, owned by Waste Management of New Jersey, Inc., represents the sixth installation of this kind. In early 2015, once the Parklands Solar Farm is in service, the Solar 4 All program will have installed more than 70,000 solar panels on 80 acres of landfill and brownfield space. This represents more than 20 MW of capacity and is capable of powering approximately 3,000 area homes annually.
“Waste Management is proud to partner with PSE&G to turn this landfill into a solar farm,” said Tara Hemmer, vice president of Waste Management’s Greater Mid-Atlantic Area. “Our company each day uses waste to produce enough renewable energy to power more than one million homes. Projects and partnerships like this one will continue to reduce our carbon footprint, make our nation less dependent on foreign energy, and improve our environment.”
Since 2009, PSE&G has invested more than $480 million on the Solar 4 All program, creating more than 1,600 jobs. PSE&G estimates that at the height of construction, there will be approximately 100 people onsite working on the Parklands solar project in a range of jobs, including electricians, engineers, heavy equipment operators, ironworkers, laborers, and truck drivers.
“We are showing once again that solar development in general, and our Solar 4 All program in particular, can be a jobs and economic development engine in New Jersey,” added PSE&G’s Forline.
Conti Enterprises Inc. of Edison, New Jersey was selected as the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for the project. Conti (under its SunDurance Energy entity) performed the same role in construction of the 3.0 MW Kearny Solar Farm, which is built on a closed New Jersey Meadowlands Commission landfill and is also part of the Solar 4 All program.
Solar 4 All is a 125 MW program that uses rooftops, utility poles, and landfills/brownfields for utility-scale, grid-connected solar projects. There are currently 80 MW in service, all of which was developed during the program’s first phase. The Parklands Solar Farm is the first project of the program’s second phase, which the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved in May 2013. This phase focuses on developing 42 MW of grid-connected solar capacity on landfills and brownfields during the next several years.