Cambridge eyes solar field site

CAMBRIDGE — The City of Cambridge’s Planning and Zoning Commission discussed on March 5 a proposal from Flonium CEO Sami Ayyorgun regarding a solar field in the general commercial zoning district. “Our primary goal is to provide green, clean energy at a reduced cost,” Mr. Ayyorgun said.

“On the energy-storage front, we design and develop innovative battery-based energy-storage units in various sizes, ranging from wall-mount units to containerized units,” the company’s website says. “On the renewable-energy front, we design, engineer, and offer solar/PV and/or wind energy solutions.”

The site under consideration is a 16-acre parcel off U.S. 50, behind the Best Western Hotel and the Salvation Army store. Neither owns the property in question.

Mr. Ayyorgun’s company is seeking to install about 8,800 solar panels on the property, nearly all of which is shielded from view by forest. He also advocates for the use of energy storage units.

With the increased use of electric cars in particular – China alone plans to produce 5 million in the coming years, he said – the draw on a local electrical grid will substantially increase. That means having storage available to meet a fluctuating demand, as motorists plug in their cars for more juice.

Herve Hamon of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission asked, “How do you actually make money on this?”

“Our installation costs are low enough that we can make money even with the discounted rate,” Mr. Ayyorgun said.

Much of the discussion focused on setbacks, and how far from the roads and neighboring properties the site would have to be. The current rule is 75 feet, which “seems a bit aggressive for this site,” Mr. Ayyorgun said.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Eugene Lauer said if a change in setback depth is crucial to Flonium, the company would need to apply for a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals.

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