Solar project makes use of idle capped landfill in New Jersey


Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company announced it has achieved commercial operation for a 2.3 MW solar facility that sits atop a capped landfill. The Mt. Arlington Landfill in New Jersey had sat idle for years before the project was initiated.

A ribbon cutting was held this week, with community residents and project partners in attendance. “The energy transition isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. We’ve hit a critical juncture where it’s essential to scale the energy transition with projects like this sooner rather than later,” said Greenbacker’s CTO.

The facility sits on roughly 6 acres on the 36-acre landfill site. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved the project, provided that the property owner and the operator of the solar facility should ensure that all future operations continue to protect the integrity of the cap on the landfill.

Greenbacker purchased the project from developer HESP Solar in late 2021. The project took several years of coordinating efforts to make the land suitable for redevelopment into a functional solar facility. Greenbacker has worked with HESP on 17 renewable energy projects, ten of which are in New Jersey.

“This was a blighted property that was turned into a magnificent project to the benefit of our residents,” Mt. Arlington mayor Michael Stanzilis said at the ribbon cutting. “It brings clean energy to the people in our borough, and it puts money back into taxpayers’ pockets.”

Greenbacker’s fleet of operational projects comprises over 2.6 GW of generating capacity. Since 2016, the company’s assets have produced 4.3 million megawatt-hours of clean energy, abating over 3.0 million metric tons of carbon. Today these projects support over 4,700 green jobs.

Image: Greenbacker

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) developed a comprehensive report, “The Future of Landfills is Bright,” designed for elected officials, policymakers, planners, and developers, to learn how landfill solar can be part of a broader clean energy and land-use strategy to achieve ambitious community-wide climate, sustainability, and environmental justice goals.

RMI said there are more than 10,000 closed and inactive landfills across the country. It said more than 63 GW of solar power plant capacity could be located at less than half of US landfills, generating 83 terawatt hours of electricity each year across all 50 states. The plants also could generate more than $6.6 billion annually in electricity revenue. 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, around 428 MW of utility-scale landfill solar across 126 projects had been installed at the end of 2019. Notably, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York are home to 73% of all US utility-scale landfill solar projects.

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