For many years, landfill sites have been used for the gas recovery projects. The gas generated by landfill has been used for heat and energy for both domestic and commercial use. Now, however, the Environmental News Network (ENN) reports that New York City is to go a step further and use nearby landfill sites for solar power installations.
It's thought that initially the scheme will generate up to 50MW of electricity, which won't make much of an impact on the city's annual electricity requirements, but will help boost electricity supply during peak periods, such as during hot spells when demand is much higher due to air conditioning. Perhaps more importantly however, will be the project's contribution to New York's clean air policy. By reducing emissions from diesel generators normally used to meet demand during peak periods, it's hoped that the solar power initiative will make a measurable difference to air quality in the city.
The project is expected to have additionally benefits for the city's inhabitants also. As well as providing valuable employment opportunities, 'brownfield' sites converted to 'green' usage are often a source of pride for the local community and are clearly the preferred alternative to greenbelt areas, many of which are important wildlife habitats.
Certainly, there are going to be a lot of renewable energy installations built over coming years and these will have to go somewhere. 'Brownfield' sites could prove to be the ideal location for these ventures. Usually, these sites have little monetary value, as they are unsuitable for residential or commercial use. Many are also contaminated and will not revert to their natural state for use as wildlife habitats. What's more, there are hundreds of thousands of these cheap, available 'brownfield' sites across the globe offering thousands of square miles for renewable energy projects.
Landfill, disused mines, redundant industrial sites and even rooftops are all starting to look like attractive locations for renewable energies generators such as solar power, wind turbines and even biomass production. All we need is the commitment from business and government to put them to good use.