Converting Waste Disposal Sites to Renewable Energy Sites Using MSE Berms
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To extend the operational life of a landfill, a popular approach is to increase the disposal capacity with a vertical expansion gained by constructing a mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) berm around the perimeter of the landfill footprint. Landfill owners are also increasingly interested in adopting sustainable approaches to landfill management over their long-term life (i.e., operational plus post-closure maintenance periods), which generally means that beneficial reuse options that enable a site to become economically self-sustaining in the post-closure period must be sought.

By combining these two goals, this study demonstrates that by strategically integrating a vertical expansion with implementation of renewable energy technologies (RETs), a landfill property can be transitioned over the remainder of its operational and post-closure life from a waste disposal facility to a renewable energy park. This study outlines an approach used to assess how phased installation of these RETs could be implemented during and after construction of a MSE berm at a landfill to optimize beneficial reuse of the site. Four RETs were evaluated as part of this study: solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays, wind turbines, methane gas utilization, and use of the landfill as a geothermal heat source. The energy potential at the landfill from the four RETs is available in two major forms: (1) electrical energy from solar and wind sources, and (2) heat or thermal energy from methane and the GT source. These forms of energy become available to differing degrees at different stages of the landfill lifecycle. Therefore, a key focus of the study was identifying the optimal timing for cost-effective deployment of each RET, particularly where this is critically dependent on the sequence of MSE berm construction. By strategically linking RET implementation with construction of the MSE berm, it is demonstrated that a landfill expansion would have a beneficial impact on the energy generation potential of all RETs over both the short- and long-term. For example, the significantly increased area and/or height of the expanded landfill side slopes and top surface improves the scope of PV or wind turbine deployment. In terms of local impacts, transitioning the landfill to a renewable energy park would enhance the sustainable use of the property while the renewable energy produced can be offered to the local community as a resource to offset their consumption of energy from fossil fuels and thus reduce their carbon footprint. Read More:

Publication Summary

  • Geosyntec Authors: Ranjiv Gupta, Jeremy Morris
  • All Authors: Ranjiv Gupta, Jeremy W.F. Morris
  • Title: Converting Waste Disposal Sites to Renewable Energy Sites Using MSE Berms
  • Event or Publication: Geo-Congress 2012: Stability and Performance of Slopes and Embankments III, American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Practice Areas: Construction and Demolition Waste Disposal Facilities
  • Date: 2013