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Distributed Energy Resources

Landfill Sites Draw Interest from Public Power Utilities, Communities for Solar Energy Projects

Utilities and communities across the U.S. are pursuing solar projects located at landfill sites.

The Omaha Public Power District-Douglas County SOLUS (solar on landfills utility scale) initiative currently underway is examining how solar panels could be incorporated at a former Douglas County State Street Landfill in Omaha, Nebraska. The landfill operated between 1973 and 1989, at which time it was capped to isolate waste.

Closed landfills have limited future uses, but SOLUS identifies a possible use that’s not only compatible with the property, “but also provides additional power to communities at a time when electricity usage is growing,” OPPD said.

The 160-acre site under consideration has good sun exposure and is located near an existing OPPD substation, which makes it an ideal location for solar panels, the Nebraska public power utility said.

The SOLUS feasibility study is scheduled to conclude in June 2024. The study will help determine the project timeline if it comes to fruition.

RMI Report

In late 2021, RMI, a non-profit organization focused on the clean energy transition, issued a report, “The Future of Landfills is Bright.”

In the report, RMI said that solar and landfills “are a natural combination for many communities looking to accelerate local renewable energy development.”

The report notes that landfills typically have good sun exposure -- due to a lack of vegetation -- and limited other redevelopment opportunities, making solar one of the few ways to put the land to productive use.

“Moreover, reinvesting in closed landfill sites can help revitalize the local, often lower-income, host communities. Landfill solar is also highly scalable, as there are thousands of active landfills in the United States -- and many thousands more closed and inactive landfills,” RMI said.

Among the key findings in the report is that states and municipalities “are largely in control of their own fate to drive landfill solar deployment,” RMI said.

“Trends in both the number of projects deployed and project scale indicate that the landfill solar industry is nowhere close to reaching full maturity. These trends also suggest that the deployment of landfill solar and the size of each project (plus the resulting clean electricity and jobs) are predominantly within the control of individual states and local governments,” the report said.

NREL/EPA Report on Best Practices for Siting Solar on Municipal Landfills

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2022 issued a report on best practices for siting solar photovoltaics on municipal solid waste landfills.

“With property prices fluctuating and local governments creating renewable energy goals, many communities are looking for suitable land to site renewable energy,” the report notes. “Most municipalities have landfills, and these landfills are oftentimes idle and not suitable for other types of redevelopment.”

The document aims to assist municipalities, developers, communities and other stakeholders to better understand, coordinate and carry out solar installations on municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills.

Through the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative, EPA promotes and encourages the reuse of potentially contaminated properties, landfills and mining sites for renewable energy generation when such development is aligned with the community’s vision for the site.

EPA has identified several possible benefits for siting solar photovoltaic facilities on MSW landfills, noting that these sites:

  • May provide an economically viable reuse for sites that may have low real estate development demand;
  • May have environmental conditions that are not well suited for commercial or residential redevelopment;
  • Can be developed in place of limited open space, preserving the land as a carbon sink and/or for other ecosystem services;
  • Generally, are located near existing roads and energy transmission or distribution infrastructure;
  • May be adequately zoned for renewable energy;
  • Can provide job opportunities in urban and rural communities;
  • Can advance cleaner and more cost-effective energy technologies; and
  • May reduce the environmental impacts of energy systems (e.g., reduce greenhouse gas emissions).

The report also notes that EPA has screened more than 190,000 formerly contaminated lands, landfills and mine sites, covering nearly 44 million acres across the United States, for suitability as locations for renewable energy generation facilities, including utility-scale solar.

These sites are included in EPA’s RE-Powering Mapper, which locates and provides information about these sites and their potential for supporting renewable energy generation. The application enables users to view screening results for various renewable energy technologies at each site.

Solicitations for Landfill Solar Projects

Across the U.S., utilities and communities are utilizing solicitations as a way in which to potentially pursue landfill solar projects.

In November 2023, the City of Grand Rapids, Mich., released a request for information and request for qualifications (RFI/RFQ) for the development of two solar photovoltaic projects at a landfill.

The purpose of the RFI/RFQ was to gather information about the opportunities and challenges of developing two solar projects at the landfill that can be operational in 2026.

The first project under the RFI/RFQ -- the highest priority -- is a solar system that maximizes behind-the-meter delivery to the city’s Primary Circuit, which is an electrical distribution system the city owns and operates that supplies 18,000 streetlights, traffic signals and approximately 120 facilities.

The second project would utilize the remainder of the site for an independent solar project that would cost-effectively maximize local benefits and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

The city said it was seeking responses from all entities involved in and supporting the solar sector, such as developers, installers, and financial institutions that meet the eligibility requirements.

The city also said it was open to receiving responses from single entities or from entities that represent multi-party ventures “that could provide creative solutions to deliver reliable and cost-effective projects designed to maximize the local impact of installed solar” at the landfill.


Connecticut-based Verogy on Feb. 21 said that the company had received permits from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to convert former landfills in Deep River, Middletown, and Montville, Conn., into sites that will host solar energy projects. 

The capped landfills will now host solar projects with an aggregate size of 2.15 MW DC.

New York State

In October, the New York Power Authority said that it was seeking developers to implement solar photovoltaic arrays and/or battery energy storage systems at four sites in Warren County, N.Y. 

The solicitation asked for competitively priced proposals to design and construct 4.1 MW of distributed solar PV at two adjacent landfills in the Town of Queensbury, the Cool Insuring Arena and a Department of Public Works building in Glens Falls that will provide additional clean energy options and value to the municipality.

NYPA noted that the landfill sites in particular are good candidates for solar development as they are generally maintained, unobstructed land that has limited potential for other types of development.  

Also in New York State, the Town of Postdam in April 2023 issued a request for proposals seeking proposals from solar energy developers to occupy by lease or license all or a portion of the land that comprises the site of the closed and capped former Town of Potsdam municipal waste landfill.

In July 2022, DSD Renewables and the City of White Plains, N.Y., announced that they had completed the construction of a nine-site, 6.8 MW community solar portfolio. NYPA was the city’s energy advisor for the project.

The portfolio consists of a solar canopy, solar rooftop, and solar ground-mount installations at four parking garages, Gillie Park, the Ebersole Ice Rink, Gedney Way Recycling Facility, Water Storage Site and the Sanitation Complex.

At the Gedney Way Recycling Facility, DSD’s solar canopy team designed the first floating foundation canopy mounted on a landfill cap. Additionally, two solar canopy systems at the site incorporate sidewalls to store and protect city equipment.

New York Landfill Solar Projects Come Online

Meanwhile, Catalyze, a clean energy transition company that finances, builds, owns and operates solar and battery storage systems, in December announced the operation of two solar sites, totaling over 12 MWdc, in Lancaster, New York. 

The first site is a 6.63 MWdc community solar project with Finger Lakes Health as the anchor commercial utility off-taker. The second 6.06 MWdc site will offer remote net crediting, providing an additional opportunity for the off-takers.

The two solar sites are located on what was formerly a landfill.

While the sites are co-located, they are connected to the New York State Electric & Gas distribution infrastructure by two different interconnection points. Ampion, a community solar subscription management company, enrolled Finger Lakes Health, the Town of Hector’s municipal sites, and other subscribers to the sites.

Company Completes Landfill Solar Project in New Jersey

CEP Renewables, a company based in New Jersey, has completed a number of landfill solar projects including most recently in Southampton, N.J.

In late 2023, CEP Renewables and Luminace announced that they had achieved commercial operation of the 10 MW (DC) community solar landfill project, located on the Big Hill Landfill in Southampton and is part of the state’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program.

The project is the first-of-its-kind in the state due to having two 5 MW solar systems atop a landfill, and which span across two utility territories. This fixed tilt project utilizes ballasted solar racking technology from Terrasmart as well as bifacial solar panels.

In addition to converting a previously limited use site into a solar power plant, the project has enabled the Township to recoup approximately $2 million in back taxes and interest.

The majority of the several thousand households powered by this project are low-to-moderate income.

CEP Renewables developed the project and contracted CS Energy to perform the role as EPC contractor throughout the construction phase. Luminace, a Brookfield Renewable company, is the long-term owner and operator of the project.

In late 2022, CEP Renewables, CS Energy, Terrasmart, Lindsay Precast and NJR Clean Energy Ventures, announced that they completed a 25.6 MW (dc) solar project in Mount Olive, New Jersey. The project enabled the township to recoup nearly $2.3 million in past taxes while at the same time transitioning the former Combe Fill North Landfill Superfund site into a revenue-generating, clean energy asset, CEP Renewables said.


Landfill solar projects have been developed at a number of public power communities in Massachusetts.

In December 2018, Green Street Power Partners announced that it had completed construction on Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant’s first community solar farm, located on a landfill in Raynham, Mass. The 3 MW system spans a 14-acre parcel.

TMLP is purchasing one hundred percent of the power for its community solar program.

In 2017, a 3.6-MW landfill solar project came online in Berkley, Mass., to provide energy to TMLP.

And plans are in the works for another landfill solar project to be located in Taunton that will be developed by NextGrid.

A number of other public power communities in the state have also pursued solar projects on landfill sites, a state database of projects shows.

Other Companies Have Developed a Large Number of Landfill Solar Projects

Other players in the landfill solar space include New York-based BQ Energy and CS Energy.

BQ Energy has completed landfill solar projects across a number of East Coast states including Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

On its website, BQ Energy notes that it has built up particular expertise in the siting of solar energy facilities on landfills and brownfields. “Such installations beneficially reuse land which may have limited alternative use but which often have a good electrical infrastructure,” it states.

BQ Energy manages all aspects of the development of landfill or brownfield based solar installations.

CS Energy has completed landfill solar projects in New Jersey and Massachusetts.