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Solar Panels Shed Light On Repurposing Brownfields


Contaminated landfills may be the catalyst to increasing solar power across the U.S.

Owners of brownfields typically want to improve the state of their land to ensure it is both usable and profitable. There are varying degrees of environmental contamination when it comes to this type of land, some of which is so damaging that redeveloping it for housing, shopping centers or industrial facilities is not an option, the Star Tribune reports.

But a new idea has come to light, one that repurposes particularly spoiled sites into solar panel installations.

While it may not meet the safety requirements necessary for a residential or commercial development, a great deal of brownfield land does meet solar development prerequisites such as open land space, optimal exposure to the sun, easy access to service roads and electric grids, and compliance with zoning regulations.

Minnesota has been one of the first states to attempt brownfield repurposing. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has already turned three landfills into hosts of solar installations.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency created two panel installations and uses them to provide power to equipment that collects methane gas and leachate produced by decaying fill. In the city of Hutchinson, Minnesota, part of a wastewater treatment plant is powered by a 400-kilowatt solar power installation.