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CS Energy and Luminace held a project commencement ceremony that included attendees such as the Mayor of Berkeley Township.

Clean Power

10 Megawatts Of Solar Being Put Into New Jersey Landfill

In Berkeley, New Jersey, the township had a problem that many municipalities across the country are facing with their idle landfills. What do they do with all that wasted space, since most of it is not suitable for redevelopment? As with many townships like Berkeley, once the operations ceased, the town did not have the funds to properly cap the landfill to permanently close it, so the landfill has just been sitting idle and uncapped since 1982.

solar landfills community solar

CS Energy and Luminace held a project commencement ceremony that included attendees such as the Mayor of Berkeley Township.

Ideally, they wanted to be able to cap the landfill and possibly generate some revenue for the township with the land without burdening the local taxpayers to foot the bill. With many green initiatives already in place throughout the township, the solution was apparent to go with a community solar project. So, in 2020, they entered into a public-private partnership with CS Energy to close the landfill and to install 10 MW of community solar on the landfill site. To make the project a reality, CS Energy worked for over two years to complete the necessary studies and paperwork for the permits.

CS Energy and Luminace are working together on the project, which just recently started construction. The project, once completed, will consist of two 5 MW solar energy systems and will also be the first ever project to simultaneously close a landfill and build a community solar system atop a landfill at the same time. CS Energy has been adding solar to landfills for awhile now, and once this project is completed, they will have a total of 231 MW of landfill solar projects in the United States!

“We are excited to once again be working alongside Luminace on this first-of-its-kind project,” said John Ervin, VP of Development at CS Energy. “Our deep experience in the region, and on landfill solar projects specifically, enabled our team to successfully lead the development and design of this highly complex project while working closely with regulators. We look forward to completing the construction of this project and delivering a high-quality solar system and significant energy savings to residents.”

In order to cap the landfill, CS Energy and Luminace needed to meet the capping requirements to install the solar system. Here is an example of the ground layers that needed to be in place for them to get the permits to proceed with the installation.

The Berkeley Community Solar project will supply 1,800 dwellings — 51% of which will be low and moderate income (LMI) households — with cleaner, more reasonably priced energy that is locally generated. Over the course of the project’s 20-year lifespan, participants in this landfill community solar project will collectively save around $6.4 million.

“We are thrilled to have partnered with CS Energy and Luminace to close this landfill at no cost to our taxpayers and residents while also offering more affordable and cleaner sources of energy to our community,” said Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato. “My administration and the Council have set robust goals for resiliency and green initiatives and are pleased to have this outside the box, strategic method for generating revenue for the township on township-owned land.”

This community solar project greatly contributes to the state’s objective of producing 100% clean energy by 2035. It is a part of New Jersey’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, which is being established as a permanent, long-term effort. CS Energy will have finished 310 MW of solar projects in the state when this one is finished. As of March 2023, over 174,692 New Jersey homes and business have installed a solar electric system.

“The effective pursuit of the state’s twin climate and clean energy goals requires creativity, partnership, and commitment … this landfill solar redevelopment project, which transforms a longstanding environmental liability into an asset that delivers significant and direct benefits to its host community, continues to demonstrate we — together — can achieve environmental and economic success while advancing our critical mission,” said Sean Moriarty, Deputy Commissioner.

This is interesting. According to a report done by RMI in 2021, The Future of Landfills Is Bright, there are around 10,000 closed landfills in the United States. After analyzing 4,312 of those sites, RMI found that at least 63 GW of solar power could be produced from the 4,312 landfills analyzed, and if all 10,000 landfills were able to be utilized like this, then it would be enough to power 7.8 million homes, or produce 83 TWh per year. Since a lot of factors go into whether or not a landfill can be used, most likely not all 10,000 can be used as solar sites — but a lot of them can.

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