Last year the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced that they are evaluating the feasibility of developing renewable energy production on superfund, brownfield, and former landfill or mining sites. They identified more than 11,000 sites that are good for renewable energy.
While the federal government evaluates, private investors, private and public landfill owners are on the prowl to generate more income or reduce expenses on their vast expanses of denuded real estate. Putting photovoltaic cells (PV) on closed landfills, whether in the form of flexible solar-geomembrane technology or conventional panel arrays, is beginning to emerge as a practical solution.
Today, there are fewer than 10 solar installations on United States landfills – a mix of flexible membrane covers utilizing thin-film PV cells and more traditional glass-faced panels. Most are considered in the demonstration phase, but Republic Services, one of the country’s largest solid waste handling companies, has gone beyond the pilot stage and is currently installing a one megawatt solar-geomembrane system in Atlanta, Georgia. ...read more
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Geothermal energy is picking up steam
All the energy the world will ever need lies right beneath our feet. It’s available all over the planet, even in the coldest climates. And the best part is that it’s clean, safe and will be available in unlimited supply so long as the Earth’s core remains hot.
Why then, are we still strapped for clean energy solutions? The answer lies in the economics of harnessing geothermal energies.
As global energy demand increases, fuel prices rise and efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions intensify, an increasing number of countries are looking to tap geothermal resources to drive low carbon development. A clean, base-load source of power, geothermal offers consistent electricity production nearly 24 hours per day with little to no emissions – a huge advantage over the intermittency of solar and wind generation and emissions associated with other renewables such as biomass.
Many technologies are available to harvest geothermal energy. Heat can be drawn from hot water or steam reservoirs located deep in the earth and accessed by drilling, or from geothermal reservoirs located near the surface, or from near-surface that maintains a relatively constant temperature of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat pumps are a widely deployed example of the latter where heat is pulled out of the ground to help heat or cool a building. ...read more