Detroit and Lightstar Renewables Launch Urban Agriculture Solar Energy Project

The City of Detroit, along with Lightstar Renewables, an independent power producer in Boston, has launched a solar energy project that combines urban agriculture and renewable energy.
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The City of Detroit and Lightstar Renewables have launched a solar energy project that combines urban agriculture and renewable energy. // Photo courtesy of City of Detroit

The City of Detroit, along with Lightstar Renewables, an independent power producer in Boston, has launched a solar energy project that combines urban agriculture and renewable energy.

The initiative, called “Locally Sited Utility-Scale Solar,” marks the beginning of a multi-phase endeavor aimed at intertwining the growth of solar energy infrastructure with sustainable agricultural development in partnership with Detroit’s communities.

Lightstar Renewables states it offers a new approach to the development, construction, and ownership of community solar energy systems.

Phase I of the project is set to bring solar installations to two community-centered sites — State Fair and Gratiot-Findlay — that offers a combined potential of approximately 10MW of generation capacity.

At its core, the venture seeks to empower the local community by marrying solar power generation with agriculture — also known as agrivoltaics.

Potential crops such as lettuce, kale, carrots, and a variety of berries will be planted alongside solar panels. Lightstar is actively seeking urban farming partners that can provide fresh, local, and sustainably farmed produce and livestock products.

Through the administration of Community Benefits packages, Lightstar will provide energy efficiency upgrades to qualifying homeowners in the neighborhoods adjacent to the project. The upgrades, coupled with frequent community check-ins to incorporate feedback into the project design, will deliver a project that enhances the neighborhoods.

“We are excited to partner with the City of Detroit on this project. The ‘Locally Sited Utility-Scale Solar’ initiative represents not just a significant leap toward sustainable urban development, but a reimagining of how cities can integrate green technologies with community health and prosperity,” says Tom Brown, COO at Lightstar.

“By leveraging the power of solar energy in concert with urban agriculture, we aim to illuminate a promising path forward for Detroit’s communities, supporting the city’s ambitious goals for a renewable future as outlined in the Detroit Climate Strategy. This is about more than just energy; it’s about community empowerment, economic development, and taking concrete steps toward addressing climate change.”

Through a partnership with American Farmland Trust (AFT) and Michigan State University Agricultural Extension, Lightstar intends to use the data to better integrate agrivoltaics in communities.

For more information about the “Locally Sited Utility-Scale Solar” project and upcoming community engagement opportunities, visit here.

Established in 2019, Lightstar states it has a pipeline of more than 1000 Megawatts (MWs).

For more information, visit lightstar.com/.