3 MW Solar System Grows Over Jersey Landfill

You start with New Jersey, add in a landfill, and it sounds like the setup for another joke about a state that endures a lot of abuse. But quite to the contrary: The Garden State can now boast that it has built a solar farm on a state-owned landfill.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission joined with its partners Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) and SunDurance Energy this month to dedicate the Kearny Landfill Solar Project. The  3-megawatt (MW) installation is part of a program by PSE&G (and its parent PSEG) called Solar 4 All. It’s a $450-million effort to develop 80 MW of solar capacity by the end of this year. The Kearny project was built on a 13-acre section of a dormant 35-acre landfill. The grid-connected solar farm consists of 12,506 Kyocera solar panels.

Earlier PSEG solar project (image via PSEG)

The Meadowlands Commission manages the landfill, and SunDurance Energy—an Edison, N.J.-based solar developer—oversaw the project’s construction. The commission originally leased the 13 acres to SunDurance which developed, designed and built the solar array.  Before the completion of the project, PSE&G purchased it and now owns, operates and maintains the solar panels. The project was funded in part by an $8.5 million grant by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities made available by the 2009 stimulus (still pumping out projects!). The power system actually began operations in December 2011.

In a statement, PSE&G’s president, Ralph LaRossa, said, “This project opens a new chapter in New Jersey lore. These landfills have sat dormant for years and have been a familiar site to northern New Jersey residents for as long as I can remember. This project updates that story, showing how 21st century technologies couple with public-private partnerships can return even the most unusable space to a productive purpose.”

The Kearny Landfill Solar Farm joins other PSE&G Solar 4 All projects that use New Jersey brownfields – in Lindon, Trenton and Edison. Another such solar farm is being developed on PSE&G property in Hackensack. Power from the Kearny project flows directly to the electric grid in keeping with Solar 4′s goal of providing enough solar energy to power approximately 12,500 average New Jersey homes by the end of this year. Solar 4 All’s projects are divided into two key initiatives: 40 MW in “neighborhood” solar and 40 MW in “centralized” solar. This allow the utility to take advantage of previously untapped resources including brownfields, space on utility poles and flat-top roofs.