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Archive of posts filed under the RTS Solar FAQ category.

What happens to the solar panels when they break or wear out? Who covers maintenance?

Most solar panels have an expected lifetime of 25 years, with very little maintenance required.  The individual components have lifetimes of ten years and up.  The cost of maintenance and extended warranties will be an important factor of the project’s financial analysis.  After the system’s useful lifetime is over, it can easily be removed, but …read more

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Will the system work on cloudy, overcast or snowy days? Does the system work when the regular power (the utility grid) is down?

Because photovoltaic (PV) solar systems use the full spectrum of light, the ultraviolet rays are still charging the system, even when the sunlight isn’t visible.  Obviously, the system will produce more power on bright sunny days.  In the event of a light snowfall, the snow should quickly melt and slide down the slanted face of …read more

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How does solar power work?

Solar systems that produce electricity are known as photovoltaic, or PV, systems. The term “photovoltaics” refers to the direct conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level, using silicon semiconductor materials. The power produced in direct current, or DC. In order to be used in a building or transported via the electric grid, it …read more

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The landfill is closed and capped to prevent pollution, but will this project harm the landfill cap and lead to pollutant leaks?

Any project built at the RTS has to be done in conjunction with the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), who is responsible for insuring that closed and capped landfills do not pose an environmental threat.  The system can be engineered to insure that the integrity of the landfill cap is maintained. Because the landfill …read more

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Where would this go? What happens to the transfer station?

The PV panels, mounted in frames (arrays), would go on top of the capped former landfill.   (This is the flat-topped “hill” that you see, behind the transfer station area.)  The transfer station, yard waste and composting areas won’t be affected.

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Who would pay for it?

There are multiple options for developing a PV array, but they break out into two general categories: land lease, where the municipality leases land to a private solar developer who builds, owns and operates the facility. The municipality incurs little or no financial cost in this arrangement. It benefits financially by entering into a long-term …read more

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How much electricity could be generated by a PV installation at the RTS?

Based on preliminary assessments, Green Needham believes that the area top of the capped landfill could support a 2-3 Megawatt (MW) Solar PV system. A 2 MW system would generate about 2.3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, or about 28% of the total electricity used by the Town’s Municipal and School buildings …read more

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