Project is the first commercial scale solar + agriculture project in Massachusetts
BOSTON, MA – November 29, 2017
Knowlton Farms, in partnership with BlueWave Solar (BlueWave), has been awarded a grant by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources (MDAR) to construct an agricultural solar canopy to evaluate plant and crop productivity under various solar designs and operating conditions. MDAR is contributing $100,000 of funding to the Knowlton Farm-BlueWave project as part of MDAR’s Ag-Energy Grant Program dedicated to promoting clean energy and sustainable agriculture in the Commonwealth. Results from this research will be used in pioneering nation-leading agrovoltaics (the co-development of land for agriculture and photovoltaics) and sustainable farming practices.
Knowlton Farms’ and BlueWave’s partners for this pilot project include, The University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor Stephen Herbert, the advisor of the project; the Fraunhofer Institute for Sustainable Energy to help inform design; Wellnesscapes, a permaculture farm design firm that will manage farm construction and monitor crop yields; and the New England Wildflower Society for the planting of native and beneficial pollinator plants.
BlueWave is committed to setting solar industry best practices for dual-use solar development and is proud to be a part of this flagship collaboration between state government, academia, the farming community, and the solar industry. As with all our projects BlueWave will work closely with the Knowlton family and the Town of Grafton on planning, conservation and permitting, and access. Together with our partners, BlueWave will assist in building a body of knowledge about dual-use agriculture that is scarce in New England. BlueWave will also use its proprietary models to evaluate shading conditions. This pilot project is anticipated to be completed by June 30th, 2018 as stipulated in the MDAR grant requirements and data will be collected over a period of five years.
Since 2014, Knowlton Farm and BlueWave have built a strong and dedicated partnership, and the development of this pilot project will mark our third solar installation together. In total, BlueWave has developed approximately 6.2 MW DC of solar on land owned by Knowlton Farms, including the 2.5 MW DC Grafton 1 project built in 2015 on an adjacent parcel and the 3.7 MW DC Grafton 2 project commissioned in June 2017. Together, these projects have bolstered Knowlton Farms’ agricultural operations by providing the financial stability needed to continue the agriculture use that has existed in various forms on the property since the 1800s.
Beyond immediate benefits to the farm, Grafton 1 and 2 reduce carbon emissions by 5,534 tons annually (the equivalent of taking 1,231 cars off the road), generate local tax revenue for the Town of Grafton and support the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ clean energy and climate goals. Through this third collaboration, BlueWave and Knowlton Farms look forward to being on the cutting-edge of dual-use agriculture and to helping shape the future of clean energy and farming.
BlueWave’s Chairman, John DeVillars said, “We are thrilled to be chosen for this grant and proud to be part of the Commonwealth’s efforts to expand and support farming while at the same time achieving ambitious reductions in greenhouse gases.” Continuing, “Gerry Palano and his colleagues at MDAR have launched an exciting and important program and we are grateful to be a part of it. “
Land owner and farmer Paul Knowlton said, “Farming is personal for me and my family. Knowlton Farms has remained an important part of family life. Using our land to farm both crops and sunlight will allow us to produce locally grown food crops for generations to come.”
“The Agricultural Energy Grant Program helps ensure that farmers have the tools necessary to lower their energy costs, usage, and emissions,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Co-location projects like Knowlton Farms’ agricultural solar canopy are an exciting and innovative way to keep Massachusetts agriculture viable while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the Baker-Polito Administration is proud to support these projects through grants and our new Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) incentive program.”
Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux expressed, “Thanks to the MA Department of Energy Resources (DOER), our AgEnergy Grant partner, both our agencies are excited to be part of implementing and demonstrating the dual use of land concept with Knowlton Farms and BlueWave Solar, optimizing both continued agricultural land use and energy production, a new and improved model for agricultural sustainability.”
“DOER is pleased to support Knowlton Farms’ innovative agricultural solar canopy that will work to promote both renewable energy and agricultural productivity,” said DOER Commissioner Judith Judson.
About BlueWave Solar
BlueWave Solar (“BlueWave”) is a renewable energy company founded on a mission to make solar available to everyone, everywhere. BlueWave’s proprietary fintech platform delivers innovative, high-value products and services to its partners and customers, enabling communities and consumers to choose local, low-cost renewable power. From developing high-quality solar projects that allow customers to participate in BlueWave Community Solar, to financing residential rooftop solar with the BlueWave Home Solar Loan, BlueWave empowers its partners and installers to deliver a seamless home solar solution. That’s the BlueWave vision for a cleaner planet and our energy solution for the “100%.”
As a solar leader in Massachusetts, BlueWave has developed and built more than 100 megawatts of solar projects to date, delivering over $275 million dollars in estimated lifetime savings to our customers while reducing CO2 by 100,000 metric tons annually – the equivalent of taking 20,000 cars off the road. We work with more than 30 public entities and over 1,000 community solar customers.
BlueWave is a Certified B Corporation and was recently recognized as one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States by the Inc. 5000 and in Massachusetts by the Boston Business Journal. For more information visit www.bluewavesolar.com