solar panel field

Report | 2021

The Future of Landfills is Bright

How state and local governments can leverage landfill solar to bring clean energy and jobs to communities across America

By Matthew PopkinAkshay Krishnan
Download the report below

There are more than 10,000 closed and inactive landfills around the country. These sites offer an incredible opportunity for solar development. By installing solar on closed landfills, states and municipalities advance local solar energy while repurposing relatively large, vacant sites within communities that have limited reuse potential.

Solar and landfills are a natural combination for many communities looking to accelerate local renewable energy development. Landfills typically have good sun exposure and limited other redevelopment opportunities, making solar one of the few ways to put the land to productive use. Moreover, reinvesting in closed landfill sites can help revitalize the local, often lower-income, host communities.

Yet, despite these benefits and opportunities, landfill solar is neither common practice nor common across the renewable energy industry. This report highlights our analysis of the current status of landfill solar and the technical potential of what is possible if scaled across the United States. We then identify a set of policies and incentives that states can embrace to support the growth of landfill solar. We also provide best practices for local governments to complement state efforts and accelerate landfill solar project development.

The findings of this analysis should offer clarity to elected officials, policymakers, planners, developers, and communities on how landfill solar can be part of a broader clean energy and land-use strategy to achieve ambitious community-wide climate, sustainability, and environmental justice goals.