JinkoSolar is going to provide the solar cells for a new 5.75 megawatt solar array that will be built on the site of a former landfill in Canton, Massachusetts. The site had been derelict for more than 20 years, and struggling towns and cities across the U.S. might want to take a look at Canton to see how solar power could help them generate new revenue from abandoned properties.
Clean Energy from Brown Fields
The Canton site is just the tip of the solar iceberg. The U.S. EPA has identified a whopping 14 million acres of abandoned industrial sites (aka brownfields) and Superfund sites that could be put to use generating solar power or wind power.
It’s part of a program called Re-Powering America’s Land, which the Obama Administration rolled out back in 2010.
The initiative gives you a sustainability three-for-one. Aside from generating renewable energy and potentially bringing some revenue into depressed areas, Re-Powering America’s Land is designed to clean up and repurpose local eyesores, and create new green jobs in local communities.
From Landfill to Solar Power
The 15-acre Canton site will be constructed by Gemma Renewable Power. Once completed it will generate revenue for the city to the tune of $16.3 million, representing lease of the property and sale of the electricity.
One interesting aspect of the project is JinkoSolar’s use of a ground-mounted system for the array’s 19,844 solar panels. This kind of “non-invasive” mounting system is needed to reduce the risk of subsurface disruptions that could weaken the integrity of the landfill cap.
It’s also interesting to note that Canton officials considered other options for use of the site. The solar array won out partly because it offered the highest return with a relatively low investment. The fact that it will be up and running within the year is also a plus.
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Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.