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Support for building solar farms on top of landfills is growing in Virginia

Solar panels gather sunlight in Florida.
John Raoux
Solar panels gather sunlight.

One of the problems for the growth of solar energy in Virginia has been finding a place to put all the solar panels.

Solar panels on landfills. It's an idea now under consideration in Hampton Roads, where Norfolk is considering a proposal to install 35 acres of solar panels on a former landfill.

"This is a revenue opportunity for localities," says Thomas Turner at Conservatives for Clean Energy.

"It would be beneficial to help bring in new revenues that could go to whatever the government may need at that time, whether it be schools, firefighters…  Habitat for Humanity is using solar to help build homes and things like that, so it can be a really good tool to lower costs in many aspects."

Tim Cywinski at the Sierra Club says putting solar panels and landfills is a no brainer.

"The concept has been around for a long time and there are many tangible benefits of putting solar panels on former landfills," Cywinski explains. "Mainly it doesn't cause any pollution, it's using unused land that is not desirable for other types of constructions and it’s no noise. It's not really an eyesore, and it provides clean, cheap energy."

Virginia will probably need many more acres of solar panels to meet the deadline in the Clean Economy Act to have 100% renewable sources of energy by 2050.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.