Many states and cities have long been turning trash into treasure by burning garbage to create heat and electricity, or by harvesting the methane gas that is released as junk decomposes. But in a new twist on this theme, several cities and municipalities are transforming capped landfills—the ultimate waste of space—into solar-power plants.
“When you get done with a landfill, that property’s primary function can no longer be used anymore. It’s a great pyramid of waste,” said Mark Roberts, vice president of HDR, an engineering company that constructs solar-voltaic landfills. “So the question is, What do you do with these facilities when you’ve filled it up. What you can do is cap the landfill in such a way that it meets the EPA requirements but gives you an opportunity to still get benefits from its use.”