Practical Guide to Agrivoltaics in Massachusetts

Agrivoltaics, also known as solar farming, is a practice where solar panels are installed on agricultural land, providing renewable energy while allowing the land to be used for crop production. Massachusetts has been exploring the potential of agrivoltaics in recent years.

In Massachusetts, the use of agrivoltaics has been researched thoroughly due to the state's commitment to clean energy and sustainable agriculture. The combination of solar energy and agriculture allows for multiple benefits, including increased land productivity, energy generation, and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

One notable agrivoltaics project in Massachusetts is a collaboration with the University of Massachusetts and another nonprofit entity. They installed a solar array on a cranberry bog in Carver, Massachusetts, which is a perfect example of the potential for agrivoltaics in the state. The solar panels are elevated several feet above the bog, providing shade that reduces water evaporation and provides a more stable environment for the cranberry plants.

This project not only produces renewable energy, but it also has the potential to increase the yield of the cranberry harvest. The project team is monitoring the impact of the shade on the cranberry plants and the water in the bog, and they plan to use the results to inform future agrivoltaic projects.

Another example of agrivoltaics in Massachusetts is the Solar Agroforestry project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This project is testing the use of solar panels mounted on stilts above crops of hazelnuts, elderberries, and other perennial crops. The solar panels provide shade to the crops, which can help reduce water usage and increase yields.

In general, agrivoltaics in Massachusetts is still in the early stages, but it has the potential to be a modest contributor to the state's clean energy goals while also providing benefits to agriculture. As research continues and more projects are implemented, it is likely that agrivoltaics will become an increasingly popular practice in Massachusetts and beyond.

Developing an agrivoltaics project involves several steps and considerations, including:

  • Understanding crops demand and water demand
  • Project design,
  • Equipment selection and
  • Installation. 

It is important to consider the economic viability of the project, including the cost of equipment, labor, and ongoing maintenance. Overall, developing an agrivoltaics project requires careful planning and coordination between solar energy and agriculture experts to ensure the project's success.

NuWatt Energy works with our partners Sun’Agri, the University of Massachusetts, and financial institutions to mainstream Agrivoltaics solutions and to make them more practical and affordable to stakeholders. We work with farmers from inception to commissioning.

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