Timeline of Development

Developing an agrivoltaic project involves several stages, from initial planning to full operation. On average, we expect project development to take 18 months to four years.

Here’s a general timeline for the development of an agrivoltaic project:

  • 1

    Initial Planning and Feasibility (3-6 months)

    • Concept Development: Define the goals and scope of the project. Determine the types of crops or livestock and solar racking to be used.
    • Site Selection: Identify and evaluate potential sites for the project. Consider factors such as land availability, proximity to electrical grid infrastructure, and solar irradiance.
    • Feasibility Study: Conduct a detailed feasibility study to assess the technical, economic, and environmental viability of the project. This includes soil analysis, climate assessment, and energy yield predictions.
    • Stakeholder Engagement: Engage with local communities, regulatory bodies, and potential investors to gather support and address any concerns. 

  • 2

    Design and Permitting (6-12 months)

    • System Design: Develop detailed designs for the agrivoltaic system, including the layout of solar panels, irrigation systems, and crop areas. Balance the design for both agricultural productivity and energy generation.
    • Permitting and Approvals: Apply for and obtain necessary permits and approvals from local, regional, and national authorities. This can include land use permits, building permits, and grid connection agreements. Larger projects, >1MW, will take longer for utility approvals — this timeline can be ballparked but it’s project specific. 
    • Financial Planning: Secure financing for the project through loans, grants, subsidies, or private investments. Prepare a detailed financial plan and budget.

  • 3

    Procurement and Pre-Construction (3-6 months)

    • Equipment Procurement: Order solar panels, racking, inverters, and other necessary equipment. Choose suppliers and negotiate contracts.
    • Contracting: Hire contractors and subcontractors for construction. Ensure all parties are aligned on project timelines and expectations.
    • Site Preparation: Prepare the site for construction. This may involve the farmer planting a cover crop prior to commencing construction activities. Cover crops provides a significant advantage during the build process including stormwater management, soil compaction reduction, and soil loss from erosion. The contractor will establish access roads and utility connection lines and setting up access roads and utility connections.

  • 4

    Construction and Installation (6-12 months)

    • Solar Panel Installation: Install the solar panels and mounting structures according to the design specifications. This includes wiring and connection to the electrical grid.
    • Agricultural Setup: Prepare the land for planting. This may include subsoiling or setting up irrigation systems, to prepare for initial crop planting. Ensure that the layout supports both agricultural and solar operations.
    • System Integration: Integrate the solar energy system with the existing electrical infrastructure by tying it into the grid. This will involve setting up new utility poles, inverters, transformers, or monitoring systems.

  • 5

    Commissioning and Testing (1-3 months)

    • System Testing: Conduct thorough testing of the solar energy system to ensure it operates correctly and efficiently. Check for any issues with electrical connections, panel performance, and safety systems.
    • Agricultural Monitoring: Monitor the initial growth and health of crops to ensure they are thriving under the new conditions. Adjust agricultural practices as needed.
    • Training and Handover: Train local staff and farmers on the operation and maintenance of the agrivoltaic system. Ensure they are familiar with both the agricultural and energy aspects of the project. In general, the solar owner is responsible for the maintenance of the project and the farmer is responsible for the agricultural production. 

  • 6

    Operation and Maintenance (Ongoing)

    • Regular Maintenance: Conduct regular maintenance of the solar panels, electrical systems, and agricultural infrastructure. This includes checking connections and panel & wiring inspections.
    • Monitoring and Optimization: Continuously monitor the performance of both the solar and agricultural components. Use data analytics to optimize operations and improve efficiency.
    • Reporting and Compliance: Prepare regular reports on the performance and impact of the project. Ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements and standards.

  • 7

    Long-term Evaluation and Expansion (Ongoing)

    • Performance Evaluation: Evaluate the long-term performance of the agrivoltaic system. Assess the economic benefits, crop yields, and energy production.
    • Scalability and Replication: Consider opportunities for scaling up the project or replicating it in other locations. Use lessons learned to improve future projects. 

We take the lead throughout this process and advocate for you throughout all stages of development and construction.

By following this timeline, we can systematically address the challenges and opportunities associated with agrivoltaic projects, ensuring a successful and sustainable outcome.

Joe Czajkowski Farm Hadley MA Broccoli