By Bob Geiger
Dolan Media Newswires
Minneapolis — Eden Prairie-based Westwood Renewables has been picked by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to design and engineer the state’s largest photovoltaic array on underutilized land.
The project is a 2-megawatt solar layout on a closed landfill in Olmsted County near Rochester. The solar array, which would be the first state project to generate clean energy on land that is underutilized, is intended to help the Pollution Control Agency meet sustainability goals.
Nathan Franzen, general manager of Westwood Renewables, said the project is “a great way to add distributed generation to the grid and make use of underutilized land.”
Franzen said the Pollution Control Agency is not contributing money to the project. Rather, the agency is donating a land lease for the site. Westwood Renewables will need to raise between $8 million and $9 million to build the development.
Part of that search for money includes applying for economic stimulus money to help finance the project, Franzen said. Westwood Renewables plans to arrange a construction team for the solar array project.
If completed, the southeastern Minnesota project could be used by the Pollution Control Agency as a model for possible developments on other closed landfills around the state.
The project could start operation as soon as 2011. The agency will use data from the pilot plant to decide if the approach would work for the state’s other closed landfill sites and if energy from the sites can be sold to state municipalities or electric utilities.
The Olmsted County project would be more than three times the size of the 600-kilowatt solar array officials want to build on the roof of the Minneapolis Convention Center.