New York Landfill Goes Green Undercover

Madison, N.Y., is the first city in the country to turn its municipal landfill into a solar power plant. The landfill got a new lease on life with the installation of a photovoltaic cover. Carlisle Energy Services announced the installation of the Spectro PowerCap Exposed Geomembrane Solar Cover system has been completed, and the system is expected to be fully operational within a month.

The eight-acre demonstration site features a three-ply membrane that serves as both the closure system for the decommissioned landfill and the platform for an integrated 40-kilowatt Uni-Solar thin-film photovoltaic array. The technology was developed as both a long-term and final landfill closure solution. The PV system is expected to offset nearly all of the power requirements of the Madison County ARC Recycling Facility on the site for 20 to 30 years.


image via Carlisle Energy Services

The demonstration project was funded by a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in an effort to showcase the technology for other landfill owners in the state. “The photovoltaic landfill cover will play an integral role in Madison County’s growing renewable energy initiative, and we are proud to demonstrate the technical and commercial feasibility of Carlisle’s unique landfill closure system,” said James Zecca, Madison County Solid Waste Department director.

The site, now referred to as the Madison County Agriculture and Renewable Energy Park, will also host a 1-megawatt landfill gas system used to dry lumber on the site and heat the building. Other projects under consideration for the site include a windmill, hydroponic greenhouses, or possibly an additional solar array.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).


  • Reply September 8, 2011


    This is the first I’ve heard of such a solar land fill cover system. It’s amazing all of the different solar materials that are coming out. u00a0There are even solar parking lots (PV cells integrated into pavement). u00a0These different types of solar materials make it easier to be creative in integrating them into various locations and for a variety of purposes. u00a0This combined with increased cost effectiveness and efficiency will push solar to the forefront of the renewable energy solutions.

  • Reply September 11, 2011

    The solar panels are manufactured by Uni-Solar Ovonics, a subsidiary of the Detroit, Michigan company Energy Conversion Devices. Ticker symbol ENERufeffnnHere’s a good news video report on this application….nn

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