A landfill is an ideal site for a photovoltaic plant. However, the special technical conditions linked with the sealing system have to be considered.
The objective of the practice is to use the area of the landfill which cannot be used for other purposes such as residential or commercial use or agriculture. Further objective is the production of sustainable energy by photovoltaics (PV). The landfill Luckenwalde is an example of further use of the landfill area after the ending of waste disposal. The landfill for municipal waste (17 ha, 2.1 Mio. m³) was closed in 2005. In 2012 a surface sealing system was installed. Afterwards, a PV plant with a capacity of 1.7 MWp was installed on the area of the landfill heading to the south (2.7 ha). Before construction of the PV, several tests had to be conducted considering the impact of the PV on the sealing system. The tests included measurement of the required engineering properties for foundation as well as the overall stability of the sealing system in interaction with the PV. The functionality of the sealing system and the gas collection system might not be negatively influenced by the construction of the PV. PV was installed with following technical requirements: - a distance of 0.5 m between foundation and drainage layer, - appropriate distance between surface and panel and between each panel in order to sustain vegetation growth and allow maintenance work, - measures against erosion caused by run-off from PV panels. The main beneficiaries of the practise are the financial income for the landfill operator as well as the sustainable energy production. 950 Mg CO2/a are avoided.
The financial investments for the PV are about 1.5 Mio Euro/ MWp. Human resources are needed during construction and afterwards for maintenance of the PV.
Evidence of success
Factors of success of the installation of photovoltaics on landfills are the reduction of greenhouse gas emission and the generation of financial income for the landfill operator. Areas are used which cannot be used for other purposes such as residential or commercial use or agriculture. Photovoltaics can also be installed when the landfill is equipped with a surface sealing system when special measures to protect the surface sealing system are applied.
There might be restrictions for the implementations when the structural stability of the landfill (e.g. at slopes) is not given. The liner may not be damaged by the installation of the PV. Also the precipitation in humid regions has to be considered to minimize impact of PV panels on soil erosion.
Potential for learning or transfer
On the territories of the EU member states exist about 500.000 landfills. These landfills represent an enormous potential area for energy production. Particularly, in the southern parts of Europe, with lot of sunshine duration, the construction may be successfully implemented.
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