In the United States, Hazardous Landfills May Become Solar Farms.!

In the United States, Hazardous Landfills May Become Solar Farms.!

Humans are developing more inventive ways to combat climate catastrophes as pollution, heatwaves, flooding, and habitat damage become more widespread.

One illustration of this is the rise in the number of dump sites being converted into solar farms in the United States.

A landfill is a hazardous location for disposing of solid garbage that is coated in several layers of dirt. It is an illustration of human excess and the rife pollution of our world.

Although a landfill may appear lush and green once the grass has started to grow there, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified landfills as brownfields, which are contaminated areas that pose a risk to the environment and are too unstable and unsafe to be developed.

In the United States, Hazardous Landfills May Become Solar Farms.!

A report from the nonprofit clean energy organisation RMI titled The Future of Landfills is Bright states that 113 landfill-to-solar projects with a capacity of one megawatt or more have been constructed in the United States. These initiatives account for 428 megawatts of total solar capacity.

1,000 kilowatts make up one megawatt. The average yearly electricity use for a U.S. home is roughly 7,200-kilowatt hours, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

According to research from RMI and the World Resources Institute, 207 megawatts of electricity were produced by 21 landfill solar projects in the United States last year.

According to Vox, 17 miles south of Houston, Texas, in the predominately Black Sunnyside neighbourhood, is being built the largest landfill-to-solar project in the United States.

According to Time, the completed project will cover 240 acres of landfill and supply electricity to around 5,000 households annually.

In the past, American landfills were frequently located in primarily Black neighbourhoods, which is another illustration of the nation’s environmental injustice.

As reported by Vox, the head of the neighbourhood community development group South Union CDCEfrem Jernigan, a longtime resident of Sunnyside, claimed that white Americans came here and dumped on Black Americans for 40 to 50 years.

Once a landfill, such as the one in Sunnyside, is shut down, it becomes an eyesore in the neighbourhood, an unusable site that could leak harmful pollutants if it is not adequately sealed or is punctured by a building.

In the United States, Hazardous Landfills May Become Solar Farms.!

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Building solar panels over old landfills is safe because they can be constructed on concrete ballasts that won’t disturb the dirt cap, according to Matthew Popkin, one of the authors of The Future of Landfills is Bright and a manager in the urban transformation programme at RMI.

Environmental sensors will be placed all around Sunnyside’s solar farm in case there are any leaks.

Since landfills are owned and managed by municipalities, local communities have more control over how they are repurposed.

According to Popkin, who was quoted by Vox, it was typically the less fortunate who had no control over what was done in their backyard.

There is a chance to partially redress some environmental injustices, according to Popkin. It can be a component of a bigger revitalization plan.

Popkin and co-author Akshay Krishnan identified over 4,300 landfills as potential sites for landfill solar projects that might ultimately produce 63.2 gigawatts of electricity annually, enough to power 7.8 million households. (One gigawatt is equal to one million kilowatts.)

A community solar project that could help Sunnyside residents save money on their electricity prices will receive about two megawatts of the 50 megawatts that the Sunnyside solar project will produce overall.

In order to assist minimise blackouts, there will also be a 150-megawatt storage facility for extra solar energy.

In the United States, Hazardous Landfills May Become Solar Farms.!

Residents of Sunnyside will also be able to sign up for a programme that offers training in solar installation every three months.

The Inflation Reduction Act provides millions of dollars in cash as well as tax benefits for energy communities that are created through sustainable energy projects in low-income neighbourhoods and brownfields.

As reported by Vox, “All of a sudden, you have a national motivation to create these projects.”

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Popkin expressed optimism that the town would benefit economically from the solar installation rather than experience gentrification.

According to a statement from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, “I am optimistic about the future of this property and the people who live in the resilient community that grew around this environmental injustice.” Most significantly, it will change the built environment of a historically underserved and under-resourced neighbourhood by bringing private investment to Sunnyside, a neighbourhood that is primarily Black and Brown and struggles on a daily basis with historical injustices that have led to current disparities.

The first version of this article, “Toxic Landfills in the US Could Get Second Lives as Solar Farms,” was published by EcoWatch.

Adam Bertocci

Adam has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. He lived with computers all his life and he works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. Ryan has been working with Enviro 360 now. He likes to swim and play video games as his hobby.

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