First U.S. solar sites built over cranberry bogs to be developed by end of 2021

cranberry bog agrivoltaics
Not the actual bog.

Pine Gate Renewables has closed financing on two new dual-use solar projects that will bring 9 MW of solar energy and storage to the community of Carver, Mass., while also maintaining the ground for cranberry farming. These are Pine Gate’s first projects in the state of Massachusetts and will add to the company’s existing portfolio of more than 700MW of operating solar sites.

Pine Gate is working with local cranberry farmers to tend to the land and manage the harvest process. The Solar Carver projects will provide temporary construction jobs to hundreds of workers during the build-out, will keep local cranberry farms active. Additionally, the storage component to both projects provides necessary backup power to maintain the integrity of the grid for the Commonwealth.

“We’re excited to continue playing a role in the advancement of agrivoltaics with Solar Carver 1 and 3 that will benefit local cranberry farmers and provide clean energy, tax dollars and jobs for the community,” said Ben Catt, CEO of Pine Gate Renewables.

Solar Carver 1 will be built on a 70-acre site that will produce 6MW of energy along with a 24MW hour storage battery, while Solar Carver 3 will produce 3MW and house a 12MW hour storage battery spreading across a 35-acre site. The
long-duration batteries will allow the system to optimize its energy profile on the grid. The projects are anticipated to be complete by late 2021 and will produce enough energy to power approximately 7,000 homes annually.

Solar Carver 1 & 3 will be a part of the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, a statewide long-term, solar incentive program with the intent to procure 3,200MW of new solar projects in the Commonwealth. Most solar projects are built using steel racking, but to create enough space for the cranberry bogs below, Pine Gate’s adept EPC team will engineer the Solar Carver projects to be built on 25-40 ft long wooden utility poles, which are more
durable for the wet terrain. These poles will be driven 15-30 ft into the ground in order to keep the trackers at least 10 ft above the cranberry bogs and allow for annual fall harvesting.

In this $53 million project, John Hancock served as sponsored equity arranger, Live Oak Bank provided the permanent debt financing and U.S. Bank provided the tax equity.

“Live Oak Bank is proud to support the dual-use solar projects Pine Gate Renewables is spearheading in Massachusetts,” said Jennifer Williams, head of renewable energy at Live Oak Bank. “Our team is committed to helping project developers grow their solar portfolios and, ultimately, make a positive impact to the local economy and climate change.”

“U.S. Bank is excited to be part of this first-of-its-kind project that will enable solar to coexist with the cranberry farming operations,” said Jonathan Peeples, business development officer with U.S. Bancorp Community Development
Corporation, the bank’s tax equity and community investments subsidiary. “We appreciate our continued partnership with Pine Gate and its unique, creative approaches that help us all be responsible stewards of the environment.”

University of Massachusetts-Amherst selected the Solar Carver projects to take part in a study on the dual-use solar projects inter-row solar panel spacing over cranberry production.

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