When capped, landfills—also known as garbage dumps or tips—can be transformed into solar farms under the correct circumstances. (Capping indicates putting anything between the polluted material and the surface, like a cover or barrier.) During the past five years, there has been an upsurge in landfill solar facility construction in the US by around 80%. But several considerations must be taken into account initially.
Although there are certain unique considerations, installing solar farms atop landfills is a fantastic method to produce sustainable energy in locations that were previously thought to be unusable. It’s crucial to consider solar energy projects on landfills as part of an integrated system rather than as distinct landfill and PV systems, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The location of a renewable energy project could be a former landfill in Sterling. The Michigan-based Utopian Power, a developer of renewable energy, received approval from the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly for a 25-year lease. A 40-acre abandoned trash site will be transformed into a 2 MW (megawatt) solar plant when Utopian approached the city with the concept.
Forrest Cohn, the president and founder of Utopian, said, “We believe this project can truly take off and progress forward, one which sounds reasonable for the peninsula as a whole, for the people.” He has been employed in the region for years, holding temporary positions at Midnight Sun Solar and the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association.
Utopian plans to use the farm to produce electricity that it will then resell to the nearby utility. The borough will also get $10,000 in annual rent payments ($250 per acre for a $10,000 annual lease total) and a 12 percent royalty from any sales under the terms of the new lease agreement. Utopian will also be given the option of renewing its lease for two additional 10-year terms.
Right now, the property isn’t bringing in any revenue for the borough. In fact, it costs them money. Off of Swanson River Road is where you’ll find the Sterling Special Waste Site. Due to the subsurface waste, the solar project will be built fully on the surface, where the business intends to cover the development area with a large number of solar arrays. As a result, it will be the greatest project Utopian has undertaken yet, which alarmed Soldotna assembly member Tyson Cox.
“As of yet, they’ve only finished one project, a 1-MW solar farm. Simply put, there are much more questions than there are solutions, according to Cox. Despite the fact that they are all still in the early phases, Cohn stated that the company is working on additional significant initiatives outside. The non-compliance of Utopian’s Alaskan LLC, which meant they missed filing paperwork in Alaska, was another reason why assembly members questioned it.
According to Cohn, Utopian is now in the process of modifying its legal standing within the state. According to him, the business was initially established in Alaska but then relocated to Michigan. He claimed that he is now altering its filing in Alaska to reflect that it is a foreign corporation.