By Eric Millard, chief commercial officer, CS Energy
Modern landfills, whether they are privately owned for-profit entities or operated by local, federal or state governments, are government-regulated, highly controlled environments. Measures are taken to prevent precipitation from seeping through the waste and contaminating the water supply, odors must be controlled, waste containing certain toxins needs to be kept out and gas buildup can become an issue. In 2013, the EPA estimated there were approximately 1,908 municipal solid waste landfills (MSWLFs) in the continental United States that are managed by the states where they are located.
In order to prevent landfill waste from migrating into the environment and potentially causing harm, an engineered landfill “cap” is installed to create a protective barrier between the waste in the landfill and the surrounding area. A capped landfill can no longer receive waste, and it must be maintained and monitored for a number of years.
Capped landfills are increasingly attractive locations for new solar power installations. This is an unsurprising trend, since the number of active landfills is decreasing, leaving state and local governments with significant unusable parcels of land. The EPA estimates there are as many as 7,400 closed landfills in the country.