Written by: Leonard Parker | Solar News | 26th March
BlueWave Solar, a Boston-based solar developer and community solar service provider, has sold a 4.2 MW, 10-acre agrivoltaic solar project on a wild blueberry farm in Rockport, Maine, to Navisun, a solar power producer that owns and operates distributed and small utility-scale solar projects.
Having successfully developed over 130 MW of solar in Massachusetts since 2010, specializing in community solar and dual-use development, BlueWave says it is excited to be developing the first agrivoltaic dual-use project in Maine, combining solar and agriculture by positioning solar panels above an existing wild blueberry farm field. Under the terms of the acquisition, Navisun will own and operate the completed project which is expected to complete construction in June.
“Sustainable solar development is at the core of everything BlueWave does, but with this project, we aimed to look beyond the traditional definition of dual-use solar to explore the full potential of what agrivoltaics has to offer for the agricultural sector,” says Alan Robertson, senior director of solar development at BlueWave Solar. “We’re thrilled that Navisun and the many partners we’re working with share our passion to do right by the land and see the value in the emerging agrivoltaics market.”
Conducted in partnership with wild blueberry growers, specialist networks and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Rockport project includes an agricultural research plot to study how wild blueberry cultivation performs within a solar array. The study will showcase best practices in agricultural solar construction and operation and inform a new path forward for Maine’s wild blueberry farmers. One of the many project innovations will include manufacturing custom equipment to be used within the rows of solar panels for wild blueberry management. This equipment, funded by BlueWave, will benefit not only the Rockport project but potentially enable the farming of other hard-to-cultivate wild blueberry fields in the state. Dual-use solar provides blueberry farmers with the ability to diversify income as well as the potential to improve yield by providing more favorable growing conditions, in turn, improving the vitality of this important business sector for the state.
The agricultural research plot will occupy five acres of the total project space and the remaining acreage will be a traditional community solar plot. Navisun says it will take over operation of the community solar farm which will generate clean energy for the local community and allow residents to achieve savings on their utility bills.