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Solid Waste Webinar: Developing Solar Power on Closed Disposal Facilities

July 19, 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

Changes in energy markets and regulations providing incentives for renewable energy have resulted in an increased interest in developing solar projects in many areas of the United States. Closed municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills and coal combustion residual (CCR) landfills and impoundments provide an opportunity for solar power development but also present challenges that need to be considered. Projects can provide both economic return to the facility owner and positive public relations in using the property in an environmentally beneficial way. 

Closed disposal facilities are typically relatively large, open areas that are generally not suitable for other types of development. However, the light weight and flexibility of solar power systems makes placement on closed disposal sites feasible. Many older MSW landfills have relatively flat slopes which is conducive to solar development projects. This presentation reviews the current energy market and regulatory conditions that are resulting in increased solar energy production. The presentation addresses the technical and regulatory challenges associated with developing solar power projects at several closed MSW landfills and CCR surface impoundments. Several case studies will be presented that address the various types of disposal facilities and regulatory/design challenges. Projects range in size from 30 acres to over 100 acres. The disposal facilities have solid/residual waste permits and NPDES permits. Project development required obtaining approvals from the regulatory agencies to modify the permits to construct the solar power facility on the closed sites.  

The permit modifications needed to address installing the solar panel racking system on the existing cap system without damaging the cap. Foundations for the solar panels included concrete ballasts or driven posts/ground screws. The design of driven posts/ground screws addressed the site-specific characteristics of the waste to determine the required length of the post to resist wind uplift. The repair of the existing cap system when using driven posts was also addressed.  

Another design issue on certain projects is addressing areas that are too steep for efficient solar panel layout. For these areas, limited site grading is required resulting in repairing the cap system as needed. The solar projects must be designed around existing leachate management system structures and gas collection and control system components and provide access to maintain and operate these systems. Other design and permitting requirements include designing potential changes to the site surface water management system and providing financial assurance for the solar project. Several of the sites were located in the 100-year floodplain which required revision as part of the project. 

Note: This presentation will be recorded for internal training purposes only.

Featured Speakers

Rick Buffalini, P.E.

Vice President

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Mr. Buffalini has more than 35 years of experience in civil, environmental, and geotechnical projects. He has extensive experience in providing consulting services related to the permitting and construction of disposal facilities of municipal and industrial solid wastes and coal combustion residuals. He has performed siting studies for existing and greenfield facilities involving the evaluation of state and federal location restrictions, siting criteria, hydrogeologic conditions, access roads, and haul distances. He has prepared and directed numerous conceptual and detailed designs of disposal facilities including grading plans, composite liner and cap systems, leachate collection systems (bottom liner and perimeter trench), leachate transfer and storage systems, surface water management systems, gas extraction systems, and access roads, scales, and site buildings. Mr. Buffalini has prepared permit applications for expansions and closure of waste disposal facilities. Mr. Buffalini has been involved in numerous landfill construction projects. He has provided services as construction manager, prepared bidding documents with technical specifications and construction drawings, and provided construction quality assurance services for construction of composite liner systems, cap systems, leachate collection, transport and storage systems, surface water channels and culverts, sedimentation basins, and gas extraction systems. His work related to coal combustion residuals (CCR) includes the design and permitting for the expansion and closure of landfills and surface impoundments. His experience includes siting studies, feasibility evaluations, conceptual and detailed designs, permitting, and construction documents for the expansion and closure of CCR facilities. Mr. Buffalini has also provided services related to USEPA CCR Rule compliance for landfills and surface impoundments.


July 19, 2022
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT
Event Category: