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Watershed Geo launches unique landfill solar technology in international markets

News | August 7, 2023 | By:

Watershed Geo, an innovative solutions provider for the protection and resiliency of civil, environmental and energy infrastructure, announces its first international solar site located at the Metabolon Research Center in Leppe, Germany. The solar system, called PowerCap™, is the latest in solar tech and green energy. 

PowerCap™ installation at the Metabolon Research Center in Leppe, Germany.

The Metabolon MSW landfill site has been transferred into a world-class research facility that demonstrates good practices in sustainable waste and resource management, environmental, landfill and renewable technologies. Watershed Geo recently teamed with Teos Energy GmgH to commission a 41 kWp test photovoltaic solar power plant at Metabolon for Germany-based disposal center operator Bergische Waste Management Association (BAV). The site will be used to scale up operations for a future larger plant and will serve as a demonstration site for other landfill owners and regulators to see the unique solar technology first-hand. The technology, called PowerCap, is installed on top of an engineered geosynthetic closure system at inactive landfill sites.

“Modern waste management and landfill aftercare are at the core of our purpose here at the Leppe Waste Management Facility and the Metabolon R&D Center,” said Pascal Beese Vasbender of Bergischer Abfallwirtschaftsyerband (BAV Leppe). “Through our efforts, we contribute to knowledge transfer, innovation and economic development. We have tested various photovoltaic systems in the past at Metabolon and we are especially excited about the success of the test field installation of PowerCap, which is designed specifically for landfill applications. It’s an ideal example of beneficial re-use of available landfill cover surface area.”

PowerCap is a patented geotechnical approach to attaching PV modules to a closed landfill surface without penetrating the capping system. The system was developed to allow for solar energy production on previously undevelopable land, such as impoundments, landfill brownfields, and topographically challenging land.

PowerCap does not use traditional ballast but instead incorporates an innovative patent-pending rail system that enhances stability and factors of safety. It directly rests via a friction mechanism on an engineered geosynthetic technology, called ClosureTurf®, with no penetrations of the closure system. The system’s unique design allows for high power potential per unit area and for installation on steep slopes for even greater utilization of space. This can provide as much as three times the power output per unit area compared to a traditional solar racking system.

PowerCap’s foundation, called ClosureTurf, has been used on more than 4,000 acres of landfill and impoundment closures in the United States in accordance with the federal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) mandates.

ClosureTurf is designed with an engineered synthetic turf and geomembrane system to reduce the need for borrow soil required for traditional vegetated closures. Because soil doesn’t need to be transported to a site, carbon footprint is significantly reduced. That benefit coupled with being repurposed for solar energy allows these sites to become significantly “greener”. In fact, the combined solar geosynthetic system was recently chosen for a 100MW solar generation project at Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Plant Shawnee Coal CCR impoundment in Paducah, Ky. The project is underway with the first phase nearing completion.

PowerCap is an innovative approach to expand upon green energy by providing an opportunity to eliminate the need to develop large tracks of native land for solar energy and allow for the use of existing infrastructure that has no other beneficial reuse: two key features to reduce impact on the surrounding community. PowerCap creates a practical post-closure benefit that diminishes the destruction of viable habitat and farmland while recovering the ecological deficit caused by municipal and industrial waste. It turns what is typically a financial liability into energy production assets. In addition, when compared to traditional solar farms, it reduces maintenance and erosion issues such as soil rutting saving both money and clean water sources.

“PowerCap is redefining solar in many ways not only in the states but now across the world,” says Mike Ayers, CEO of Watershed Geo. “The system completely changes the landscape of traditional solar farms by not only where and how they are developed but also in energy performance. By utilizing the complete landfill footprint, PowerCap is generating more energy output in a smaller area. We are grateful to our partners at the new Metabolon site to showcase our industry-changing technology and are already getting interest from key landfill owners in Europe.”

Headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., Watershed Geo develops intellectual property and provides technical solutions for ongoing problematic civil and environmental, and renewable energy infrastructure. Watershed’s products solve an array of issues in industries such as geotechnical engineering, waste management, erosion control, and renewable energy. Watershed’s branded technologies include ClosureTurf® for municipal, industrial and coal combustion residual landfill/impoundment final closures; HydroTurf® advanced revetment technology for high hydraulic shear protection; CapSure™ for intermediate landfill gas emission control and leachate reduction; and PowerCap™ solar technology for renewable energy on landfills and brownfields. Watershed Geo is majority-owned by Shaw Industries Group, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. For more information, visit  

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