Landfills, a good idea when they were first implemented, have limited value after they are filled. The land is filled over with earth but is unstable and often emits noxious smells and gasses. Using these spaces for renewable energy generation makes a lot of sense.

Last Thursday, the city of Beacon, NY got a big boost to their renewable energy generation. That’s because a local landfill has been converted from a stagnant stretch of grass into a 2 megawatt solar farm—one of the largest in its territory. Residents and visitors who frequent the Dennings Point Trail along the Hudson River will notice the new solar panels stretching across the nearby field. Converting a landfill into a solar farm would have sounded like science fiction 20 years ago, but it’s becoming an ever more common practice in the age of renewables that we’re living in today. Once a landfill is capped, there’s not a lot you can do with the land. With all the material underneath, it makes for a shaky foundation, so large buildings can’t be built on it. There’s often a lingering smell and the possibility of hazards, so converting a landfill into a public space (as in the case of Freshkills Park on Staten Island) takes a long time and is the exception rather than the rule. Solar farms, on the other hand, can put these large tracts of land to good use and save municipalities money on their […]

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