🐑 Sheep and Solar Farms

Clean energy companies are turning to sheep to keep their solar panels out of the shade.
April 14, 2024
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sheep grazing underneath solar panels

In the sun-kissed fields of rural America, sheep and solar panels coexist in harmony.

The U.S. solar industry experienced incredible growth in 2023 – growing 51% over the previous year. However, with that growth comes its challenges.

After the cost of leasing the land, vegetation management is typically solar operators’ top expense. There is also a major labor shortage in the agriculture sector, and conventional mowers don’t do a great job of maneuvering around the solar panels. 

As a result, more and more solar farms are turning to solar grazing, a practice where sheep graze near solar panels to keep them out of the shade.

Sheep also help to reduce carbon emissions and do a better job of supporting biodiversity than a conventional mower.

The practice benefits sheep farmers, too. Lamb is a very seasonal product. Farmers can earn an additional $300-$500 an acre by leasing their lamb to solar farms to help with their vegetation management.

While solar grazing seems like a win-win financially, solar operators are increasingly adopting this practice primarily for optics reasons as well. Solar grazing has helped diminish the concerns of those who don’t like seeing farmland converted to energy production. It makes sense—there is a fixed supply of farmland to grow food, and we need to produce at least 60% more food to support the growing global population by 2050.

Next time you resort to counting sheep to fall asleep–picture them grazing the grass on a solar farm.

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