Solar PV and Agriculture
The SMART Program
The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has established the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program, which will regulate incentives associated with new solar photovoltaic (PV) development in the state. The fact sheets and information on this website were developed by UMass Clean Energy Extension to help farmers and solar developers navigate the SMART program. The full regulations and guidelines associated with the SMART program are available on the DOER website. Additional information is also available at http://masmartsolar.com.
The SMART program was established as a successor to the state’s Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC II) program. SMART regulations were made publicly available on August 25, 2017, but the incentives will not take effect until the new program is approved by the Department of Public Utilities and other regulatory bodies. This approval process is anticipated to be completed in the summer of 2018.
SMART Program Incentives
The SMART program promotes installation of certain types of grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays through incentives based on a fixed price per kWh. This incentive will appear as a “tariff” credited to the solar array owner on his/her electricity bill. Solar thermal systems and off-grid solar PV will not qualify for incentives under this program.
One important aspect of the new program for farmers is that solar PV and farming will be incentivized to work together under the Agricultural Solar Tariff Generation Unit option. Specifically, there is additional financial compensation available for eligible on-farm solar PV systems that are designed so that productive agricultural activities can continue under the array in a coordinated “dual-use” system.
Solar PV and Agriculture Information
We have developed a series of fact sheets that describe various aspects of integrating solar PV on your farm under the SMART program:
Fact sheets outlining options for solar PV on your farm – dual-use and otherwise:
- Solar PV Options for Your Farm: An Overview
- Location Considerations for Ground-Mounted Solar PV Arrays
- Legal and Financial Considerations for Solar PV Arrays on Farms
- Contract Negotiations for Solar PV Facility Agreements
- SMART Program Incentives for Solar Arrays on Farms
Fact sheets relating specifically to dual-use solar PV and agriculture:
- Dual-Use: Agriculture and Solar Photovoltaics
- Dual-Use: Farm Operations Considerations
- Dual-Use: Crops and Livestock Considerations
Fact sheets, additional tools, program news and updates, and further guidance will be posted on our website as we develop them. We will also be holding workshops around the state in the coming months, and hosting webinars to explain the program.
On-going research at the UMass Amherst Research Farm:
Professor Stephen Herbert of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture has been conducting research trials of vegetables grown beneath solar panels at the UMass Amherst Research Farm in South Deerfield. A summary of his 2016-2017 research results is available here.
Financial analysis from Hyperion Systems, LLC
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has funded recent work by Hyperion Systems, LLC to develop a financial model for comparing costs and benefits of a dual-use system with those of a traditional solar PV array. Their financial analysis tool is available here.
A Joint Effort
UMass Clean Energy Extension is working with UMass Agricultural Extension, MA DOER, Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources (MDAR), farming organizations and communities, solar developers, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to gather and communicate the latest research on how solar and agriculture can best work together to help support farms and farmers, while producing clean energy.
Newsletter and More Information
Need more information? Contact River Strong (firstname.lastname@example.org; 413-545-8510) with any questions related to solar PV use on your farm, or to sign up for our newsletter.