Starlight, the renewables development unit of solar investor and asset manager NextEnergy Group, is progressing with an 87MWp agrivoltaics project in Italy that will be co-located with a 23MW battery energy storage system.
Due to be constructed in the province of Naples, the project is currently at an advanced stage of development and will span around 140 hectares when complete.
The plant, called Land of the Sun, will feature bifacial modules and trackers, while the solar arrays will be installed more than 2 metres above ground, with gaps between them of 4 – 6 metres.
Agricultural activities at the site will be divided into seven clusters: livestock, hemp, horticulture, honey, outdoor poultry farms, vertical farming and medical plants.
Starlight has partnered with agricultural association Coldiretti to increase stakeholder engagement and to study soil conditions.
The partners behind the project aim to rejuvenate the soil quality on site by sowing seeds such as hemp that provide regenerative properties, hopefully allowing land to be given back to farmers in a much better condition at the end of the solar plant’s life.
“The underlying concept of agri-eco-voltaics is fantastic, by taking an innovative photovoltaic system and combining it with modern and sustainable agriculture, we are able to maximise land use to help face current economic and social challenges,” said Aldo Beolchini, chief investment officer at NextEnergy Capital.
Formed by NextEnergy Group in March, Starlight aims to develop 5GW of solar PV projects in the next three years.
The unit’s expansion into agrivoltaics comes after Italy’s government recently launched a €1.5 billion (US$1.5 billion) scheme that aims to incentivise the installation of agrivoltaic projects in the country.
Earlier this year, Cero Generation, a solar portfolio company of Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, closed financing on a 70MW agrivoltaic project in Italy’s Lazio region that is expected to be operational next year.