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Solar PV and Agriculture

The SMART Program

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has established the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program, which began regulating incentives associated with new solar photovoltaic (PV) development in the state on November 26, 2018.  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, including application instructions, is available at

SMART Program Incentives

The SMART program promotes installation of certain types of grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays through incentives based on a 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 this program for farmers is that solar PV and farming are incentivized to work together under the Agricultural Solar Tariff Generation Unit option. 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 general options for solar PV on your farm:

Fact sheets relating specifically to dual-use solar PV and agriculture:

Resources for cranberry growers: CLICK HERE.

On-going research at UMass Amherst:

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.
  • Preliminary results from his 2018 research trials are available here.

Professor Alan Lutenegger of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering conducted a field study of the behavior of diffferent foundation systems for elevated ground-mounted solar PV panel systems.  The work was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Herbert.

  • The research report is available here.

Please contact us with any questions you have after reviewing this material.  Fact sheets, additional tools, program news and updates, and further guidance will be posted on our website as we develop them. 

Pre-Determination Form

This form is required to apply for a Pre-Determination Letter from MA DOER, in order to qualify as a dual-use Agricultural Solar Tariff Generation Unit under the SMART Program.  Draft pre-determination applications can be submitted to UMass Clean Energy Extension.  We will review the application with agricultural extension staff, and provide written comments, feedback, and recommendations within 10 business days.

    Additional Resources

    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.

    Farmers Guide to Going Solar

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has put together a guide for frequently-asked questions regarding solar arrays on farms.  The website 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 (; 413-545-8510) with any questions related to solar PV use on your farm, or to sign up for our newsletter.