Integrated application of solar energy at landfill sites doubles generation capacity

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Deponieabdeckung (Foto: ©Kommunalunternehmen Lk Bad Kissingen / abfallbild.de)

Eindhoven, The Netherlands — Recent research by Grontmij, the Province of South Holland and Van Gansewinkel demonstrates that there is great potential for generating solar energy at waste disposal sites. The current capacity for solar energy in the Netherlands is 651 megawatts. An integrated use of large solar energy systems at waste disposal sites would make it possible to generate an extra 500 megawatts. The parties concerned are working on a concrete proposal.

The engineering and design firm Grontmij, the Province of South Holland and the waste management and recycling company Van Gansewinkel investigated whether it would be profitable to cap a waste disposal site with a so-called ’solar cap‘. The research focused on the integration of a solar energy system with the traditional covering of landfill sites, taking as a case study the C3 landfill site at Maasvlakte (a site managed by Van Gansewinkel). The mandatory cover of the landfill becomes financially advantageous if it can be combined with the generation of sustainable energy. This makes the landfill site a part of the circular economy.

Three variants

Experience with existing solar energy systems can be found only abroad. The research carried out indicates that the three options for generating solar energy at a landfill site are:

  • Traditional field construction: solar panels above the ground level mounted on frames;
  • Roof structure: a temporary cover with solar panels mounted on a roof structure;
  • Integrated solar foil: the solar cells are fully integrated into the foil cover.

The financial and social benefits of an integrated system that combines the different variants at the C3 landfill site at Maasvlakte have been calculated. The research shows that with these systems, the landfill site can produce at least eight times its own energy supply.

Additional steps

According to the South Holland province, the capacity for generating sustainable energy could be increased in this way with minimal impact on the surroundings. If this approach were widely adopted, it could make a considerable contribution to the province’s goal of fourteen per cent sustainable energy by 2020.

Based on this conclusion, the three parties concerned are developing a broader and more specific proposal for a solar cap to landfill sites in the Netherlands. The proposal will be delivered in 2015.

Source: Van Gansewinkel Group