A former hazardous waste landfill in Waukegan, Illinois, is getting a second life as a renewable energy facility after decades of mitigation efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Located 42 miles north of Chicago, the Yeoman Creek Landfill has been on the federal Superfund list since its closure in the late 1960s. Cleanup to address high levels of methane and other toxic gasses is largely complete, though EPA is still monitoring the site.
While a site of this nature can come with several restrictions and regulations, BQ Energy CEO Paul Curran views it as a business opportunity. As reported by WBEZ, the New York-based company will be installing 20,000 solar panels on the Yeoman Creek site—a project that will cost roughly $10 million.
According to Curran, many Superfund sites, also known as “brownfields,” make ideal candidates for renewable energy facilities.
“You don’t want parks or houses or any kind of public access on these types of properties,” Curran tells WBEZ. “But solar needs a lot of real estate. We need places with sun that [don’t] have a lot of trees or other impediments.”
As the idea of installing solar panels on closed landfill sites gains traction nationwide, Curran says his company—which has built 19 renewable energy sites around the country and is at work on another 28—is having a hard time keeping up with demand.
“Unfortunately, there are enough brownfields and landfill sites around the country that we turn down more properties and more projects than we do,” he says.
The solar panels at Yeoman Creek are scheduled to begin operating in 2023 and produce enough power for about 1,000 households every year.