The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program launched in November 2018, and will help incentivize more “dual-use projects,” or projects that enable solar and agricultural production to coexist on the same plot of land. But in order to qualify dual-use projects, solar developers and landowners need to meet certain design, planning, and analysis criteria to ensure their projects are meeting both solar development and agricultural objectives.
Queue the SMART Agricultural Canopy Shading Analysis Tool, a robust online tool developed by BlueWave Solar, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to enable assessment towards the SMART dual-use criteria. Amongst other things, the tool was designed to allow solar developers and farmers to create shade maps allowing for a detailed view of the amount of direct sunlight available per square foot within a given solar project design. In turn, the shade maps can be simulated over the course of a year or growing season and used to assist with dimensional planning of crops or other activities within a solar project down to the square foot level. In this way, the tool merges solar design and agricultural planning principles in a consistent, analytical framework that will spur evolutions in solar design, encourage more efficient and productive land use, enable new farming business models, and help distill important dual-use concepts for public consumption.
In January, experts from BlueWave and DOER hosted a webinar to explain the tool, it’s intended use, and how it was developed. A recording of the webinar is available below, and the tool itself can be found on DOER’s website or by clicking the “Use the Tool” button below.