The company has already secured planning permission to install solar panels across 3 landfill sites in the country
In an effort to â€˜better utiliseâ€™ former landfill sites to generate income from renewable energy, Veolia UK has announced plans to explore the prospect of turning them into solar farms. As part of its landfill restoration programme, the company has already secured planning permission to install solar panels across three UK sites that have reached the end of their operation: Netley in Hampshire, Ling Hall in Warwickshire and Ockendon in Essex. The first two will be capable of generating 12 MW of power each, while the Ockendon site will be the largest, with 46 MW of solar capacity to be installed. According to Veolia, the energy generated from all three sites combined will be enough to power around 185,000 average homes per year. Green energy specialists REG Power Management and solar PV installers Ethical Power will also take part in the project, which is additionally expected to improve the biodiversity across â€œnumerousâ€ landfill sites (habitatsâ€™ creation for flowers, birds and animals and preservation of the bee orchids in Essex).
There is considerable potential to use former waste landfill sites for solar generation. â€œWe have adopted innovative approaches to design and implementation of solar schemes, in particular on less sensitive or productive land such as landfill,â€ says Stuart Whiteford, investment director at Ethical Power. â€œCurrently landfill occupies 2,000 hectares in the UK, which is potentially 800MW of solar generation, and of course does not include other brownfield sites, such as industrial and contaminated land,â€ he adds.
â€˜The solar power landfill vision had been four years in the makingâ€™, says Matt Partridge, development director at REG Power Management, pointing out that â€˜this project will contribute to both of our aspirations related to landfill after-care management, climate change and the circular economyâ€™.
A â€˜primary exampleâ€™
The Netley landfill site is a â€œprimary exampleâ€ of landfill green energy generation, says Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia UK and Irelandâ€™s senior executive vice-president. There, a 5MW solar farm has already been installed, able to power around 13,000 homes per year, which will be expanded to 12MW later this year. â€œThis came online in spring 2017 and following the success of this site weâ€™re working with our partners to extend the capacity at Netley, while rolling out this project across other landfill sites, including Ling Hall near Rugby and Ockendon in Essex,â€ explained Brachlianoff.
Potential future sites
There are various other Veolia landfill sites that have been reviewed for solar power suitability, for which the company also hopes to secure planning permission to install solar parks. These sites include the Pitsea and the Rainham in Essex, the Wapseys Wood in Buckinghamshire, the Albion in Leicestershire and â€˜several othersâ€™ throughout Hampshire and the West Midlands.