ENR Awards Best Project, Cinnaminson Solar Field

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) ranks New Jersey as the state with the sixth largest installed solar capacity, the largest in the Northeast. Clean energy targets that will come to fruition over the next ten years are immensely motivating factors, pushing legislative and utility entities toward finding ways to increase sources of renewable energy.

Cinnaminson Solar Field

Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G), the utility company serving New Jersey, has a long history of aligning its interests with the community and economy. A decade ago they began installing solar panels on 200,000 utility poles, a project reported by The New York Times to cost $773 million and eventually generate 120MW. This was a small percentage of the state’s overall power consumption but a notable step in the path to utilize renewable energy for 22.5 percent of the Garden State’s electrical needs by 2020. The PSE&G initiative, known as Solar 4 All, additionally identifies unusable land previously classified as a landfill or brownfield, and rehabilitates them into direct current ground mounted photovoltaic systems, commonly called solar farms.

Cinnaminson Solar Panels

One of these sites, the Cinnaminson Landfill, is now a large-scale solar farm commissioned by PSE&G for that entailed a $10M reconstruction to an existing 100-acre capped landfill. MFS’ design support services were retained by Conti Solar (now CS Energy)

Cinnaminson Landfill Close-up Photovoltaic Cells

Originally, as indicated the NJ Board of Public Utilities, the site was in "a former mining site that began landfilling activities in the late 1950s when municipal and solid waste was deposited into old mining pits." For more than 30 years this landfill site was in active use, ultimately being closed and capped with 18 inches of clay. Later investigation proved the Sanitary Landfill (Cinnaminson) to be a source of contaminated groundwater. In 1986 the site was added to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL), a listing of over 1,000 sites throughout the United States which warrant further investigation by EPA.

Cinnaminson Historical Topographic Survey

The once Superfund site is “now topped with 32,490 solar panels, has been converted into a 8-megawatt solar farm that will now provide electricity and renewable energy to an estimated 1,300 to 2,600 homes, thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Redevelopment Initiative,” reports local Burlington Times’ reporter Gianluca D'Elia. The EPC contractor for the project, CS Energy, remarks, "This project is a stellar example of how previously untenable space such as a landfill can be converted into a green energy generating field."

Cinnaminson Landfill Drone View

Announced as a recipient Best Project Award from Engineering News Record, Cinnaminson Landfill Solar was one of the big wins MFS Consulting Engineers added to their portfolio last year. MFS provided multiple services to the client, offering geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, and site/civil engineering.

MFS Site Civil Engineers

Geotechnical engineering services included the review of available information, conducting a settlement and veneer stability analysis, as well as a foundation subgrade design.

Structural engineering additionally performed a structural analysis and economical design of the reinforced concrete foundations for the switchgear unit slab, inverter unit slabs, and the perimeter fence post ballasts. In doing so, MFS was able to provide a foundation design that would not only adequately support the heavy electrical equipment that service the 8.0 MW photovoltaic system, but also minimize anticipated settlements in an area where large magnitudes of settlement had been previously recorded.

MFS Geotechnical Engineers

MFS’ site/civil team prepared construction documents including implementation of erosion and sediment control measures in key areas throughout the site. The proposed grading design considered areas with most propensity to future settlement and aimed to provide positive drainage in critical areas throughout the overall site.

MFS Grading Design Plans

MFS has worked previously on various solar projects in the utility, commercial and residential sectors, bringing renewable energy to various regions through MFSolar, a division of MFS Consulting Engineers and Surveyors.

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