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Starlight Launches an Innovative Agri-eco-Voltaics Project in Italy

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Starlight Launches an Innovative Agri-eco-Voltaics Project in Italy

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Starlight, a NextEnergy Group company, is proud to present the innovative Agri-eco Voltaics project Land of the Sun in Italy by Starlight.

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Agri-eco Voltaics is a process that combines solar photovoltaics with modern, sustainable agriculture and territorial renewal. It can address some of the most pressing future economic and social issues in the world while optimizing land use efficiency. The Project was specifically designed for Giugliano, Campania, located in the north-western region of the Province of Naples. The territory of Giugliano, Campania, has historically been dedicated to high-quality agricultural production. However, intensive crop cultivation and man-made environmental conditions (such as landfills or nomad camps, eco-bales) have altered the potential of land and degraded the soil’s growing quality.

The Project is innovative as it sets out to achieve the following three interconnected missions:

  1. Construct and operate an agrivoltaics plant, producing energy from the sun whilst allowing crops to be successfully grown and harvested. By creating a concept for dual land use, that can easily replicated around the globe.
  2. Rejuvenate the soil quality on site by selecting and sowing seeds that provide land healing properties (such as hemp) through the growth cycle of the crop. This process over many years will hopefully lead to an increase in the soil quality, allowing the land to be given back to the farmer in a much better condition, at the end of the solar farm’s life. Increasing the soil quality should lead to multiple benefits, from increased crop yields, improved quality of grown produce, and even improved local water supply quality.
  3. Provide additional environmental benefits beyond agrivoltaics, given the context in which the Project is located which has different areas of concern: landfills of different types, eco-bale deposits, quarries, industrial areas, and environmental externalities linked to illegal settlements. The Project will act as a filter between the most environmentally critical areas and the surrounding context, creating ecological corridors and new habitats, thanks to the correct design of green areas and the inclusion of a more sustainable agriculture and less dependent on water resources as well as the diversification of cultivated species to promote biodiversity.
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The Project is not like a traditional solar farm. The solar arrays are placed over 2m above the ground. They are separated by 4 to 6 meters. The entire plant will be surrounded with 10 meter green strips. To maximize energy production, the Project will include bifacial modules. It will also be equipped with advanced trackers that allow the panels to tilt vertically so farm traffic can pass through them.

Starlight has partnered up with Coldiretti, the most prominent Italian growers association, and PSR & Innovazione Campania, a consulting firm that is part of the Coldiretti network. This partnership will help to drive the Project’s success. Contributing to the improvement of the misunderstood relationship between agriculture and energy, increasing stakeholder engagement, and helping studies which species are most suitable for cultivation and improving soil conditions. Coldiretti and PSR & Innovazione Campania have collaborated to ensure the continuity of valuable agricultural productions and various crop regeneration and filtering interventions. In fact, 7 independent clusters will be used to organize agricultural activities: large livestock (sheep), hemp and horticulture (the traditional “friariello”), honey, outdoor poultry farms as well as vertical farming and medical plants.

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Starlight also has partnered with Legambiente, the Italian Environmentalist Association, to promote innovative environmental interventions in sustainable energy development and knowledge sharing among its members. They also help to promote and supervise the Project. The Project is in an advanced stage of development. Once constructed, it will cover 140 hectares (c.346 acres) and have an 86.6MWp installed capacity. It will also include a 23MW battery storage system. This will produce enough clean energy per year to meet the needs of approximately 57,000 families.

Aldo Beolchini is the Managing Partner and Chief Investor Officer of NextEnergy Capital. He stated,”The concept behind agri-ecovoltaics is amazing. By combining an innovative photovoltaic system with modern, sustainable agriculture, we can maximize land use to meet the future economic and social challenges. Starlight plays a key role in this project’s development.

NextEnergy Capital’s Managing Directo Gianluca Boccanera commented, “NextEnergy Group’s vision to lead the transition towards clean energy led to Starlight being formed. Starlight can use NextEnergy Group’s global expertise in solar to explore and promote other sustainable ancillary ideas associated with solar such as agrivoltaics. Starlight will demonstrate the benefits and integration of agricultural and energy production. This will help propel the adoption of this concept in the larger circular bioeconomy.

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