DECATUR, Ga. – Your trash could soon produce enough energy to light a neighborhood.
A landfill in DeKalb County, just north of Atlanta, is being converted from a simple hill of decaying garbage into an power-producing solar energy farm, Fox News has learned.
“It's very exciting to be a part of this new technology, particularly given the potential for landfills across the country,” said David Stuart of Georgia's Republic Services.
An enhanced geo-membrane liner, which looks like a large green tarp, covers the surface of the landfill. The liner is then covered with lightweight solar panels that are about 15 inches wide, 18 feet long and only about a quarter of an inch thick.
“We expect to produce 1 MW of power from the landfill -- equivalent to providing energy for 150 homes,” he said.
Once the project is complete, more than 10 acres of the landfill will be producing energy.
The installation of the membrane and the solar panels doesn’t disrupt the landfill’s normal process of breaking down garbage. Instead, it serves as a dual-purpose system that produces solar energy while capturing landfill gas for heating homes. A smaller test site was created in San Antonio but this is the largest project of its kind in the nation so far.
“This is unique in Georgia as it represents the first solar energy landfill project in the state and is nearly seven times the size of the project constructed in San Antonio,” Stuart said.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are about 100,000 closed landfills in the United States. Stuart estimates that hundreds of thousands of acres under those landfills could potentially use this technology to produce energy. Many of these sites are close to urban areas, he said, and have the necessary infrastructure to economically distribute the energy.