Smart Farming

Lightstar Renewables Initiates Agrivoltaics Solar Farm in New York

Lightstar Renewables Initiates Groundbreaking Agrivoltaics Solar Farm in New York. AgTech; Agriculture Technology

Key Takeaways:

  1. Lightstar Renewables is set to commence its first agrivoltaics project in New York, marking a significant milestone in both the agriculture and solar industries.
  2. The Old Myers project is a 2MW dual-use community solar project that will span a 15-acre site and aims to be completed by Summer 2024.
  3. Agrivoltaics allows for dual-use of land, enabling crop production and livestock grazing around solar arrays.
  4. The project will focus on harvesting strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and lavender, among other produce, to enhance local food security.
  5. Lightstar has partnered with American Farmland Trust to drive regenerative agricultural practices and has been engaged with farm owners since early 2022 to help rezone the property.

Lightstar Renewables is about to break new ground with its Old Myers solar project, the first of its kind in agrivoltaics in New York. Located in Wappingers Falls, Poughkeepsie, the project is a 2MW dual-use community solar initiative covering a 15-acre site. The Thompson family, the landowners, will continue agricultural production on the site while also generating a stable lease income over 25 years. Construction is slated to begin in Autumn 2023 and is expected to be completed by Summer 2024.

What is Agrivoltaics?

Agrivoltaics (AgPV) is an innovative approach that allows for dual-use solar installations. This means that crops can be grown and livestock can graze in and around the solar arrays. The solar panels are strategically mounted at a height and spaced adequately to allow crops to grow underneath. They also offer protection against extreme weather conditions like storms, frosts, and heatwaves.

Produce and Sustainability

The Old Myers project aims to harvest a variety of produce including strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and lavender. Lightstar will collaborate with local institutions to study the produce and document financial and agricultural case studies. The project aims to enhance food security in the local community while also contributing to a cleaner and more reliable energy grid. Renewable energy will be used throughout the crop-growing cycle to achieve carbon neutrality on the farm.

Partnerships and Community Impact

Lightstar has partnered with American Farmland Trust (AFT) to drive regenerative agricultural practices. AFT’s Smart Solar Siting Principles will serve as a cornerstone for the project. The company has been engaged with the Thompson family, the farm owners, since early 2022 to help rezone the property at no cost to the farmers. This will improve productivity and efficiency, as the land will be used for both solar and crop production.

Economic Benefits

Residents and businesses in the area will benefit from electricity bill savings through discounted community solar subscriptions. The project will also generate tax revenue for the local municipality. Farm owners Sean Thompson and Brian Thompson will retain the land’s farming use while earning long-term reliable income from the solar project.

Future Prospects

The project comes at a crucial time when the need for renewable energy is urgent but should not come at the cost of valuable food production. Lightstar aims to meet this challenge head-on with its first-of-its-kind solar farm in New York, solidifying its position as a leading agrivoltaics and community solar developer.

By integrating agriculture and renewable energy, the Old Myers project by Lightstar Renewables represents a sustainable future for both sectors. It addresses the community’s immediate needs and sets a precedent for future agrivoltaic projects.

Photo by Andreas Gücklhorn on Unsplash 

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