Written By: Emma Websdale
New York City will turn one of the world’s largest landfill sites into the location for a 10-megawatt (MW) solar power plant producing enough clean energy to power 20,000 homes.
The new 47-acre solar power plant, announced by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday, will be a transformation of Freshkills Park, a Staten Island site that opened more than 5 years ago and soon became the world’s largest landfill.
Once complete, the solar farm will be the largest in the city –five times the size of any other NYC solar power plant. It will increase the city’s renewable energy output by 50%.
Solar company SunEdison, which will lease the land to design, build and operate the facility, will start the year long construction late in 2015. Once online, the plant’s 35,000 high-efficiency solar panels will produce 10 MW of power.
“We’ll be turning something which was a disaster into a benefit for the people of Staten Island, and for the environment”, says James Molinaro, Staten Island Borough President.
In related news, the Department of Parks and Recreation has announced plans to map out an additional 3,000 acres of the Freshkills site for use as parkland. The proposed park, larger than the entire city of San Francisco, will provide a new venue for public recreation adjacent to the solar-power site.
“Over the last 12 years we’ve restored wetlands and vegetation and opened new parks and soccer fields at the edges of the site”, says Mayor Bloomberg. “Thanks to [this] agreement we will increase the amount of solar energy produced in New York City by 50% and it is only fitting that Freshkills, once a daily dumping ground, will become a showcase [for] urban renewal and sustainability.”
In an ongoing attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, NYC has installed approximately 700 kilowatts (KW) of solar energy to date. The city’s efforts to tackle pollution are starting to pay off. Data from NYC’s Community Air Survey has found that sulphur dioxide levels have dropped in the city by 69% since 2008, and soot pollution levels are 23% lower than in 2007.