Australian solar farm hosting 6,000 sheep

Photovoltaics Markets and Technology

The first stage of Acen Australia’s deliberate 720 MW New England Picture voltaic Farm in Australia is residence to larger than 6,000 sheep, which graze beneath the panels in a proof-of-concept agrivoltaics enterprise.

On 2,000 hectares of grazing land near Uralla, inside the Australian state of New South Wales, a mob of larger than 6,000 merino and cross-breed sheep forage for six weeks at a time beneath the roughly 1 million panels deployed as part of the 400 MW first stage of Acen Australia’s New England picture voltaic farm.

The preliminary stage of the enterprise, which is among the many largest working picture voltaic mills in Australia, started exporting to the grid at the same time the first of the sheep had been launched to the positioning in December 2023. Since then, further sheep have been launched repeatedly, to help them transition to their new feeding flooring.

Each six weeks the sheep are mustered to sheds for well-being checks or vaccinations and returned to co-exist of their renewable vitality setting.

Richard Munsie, who’s among the many landholders working sheep on the picture voltaic farm web site, said the early indicators are optimistic. He said the panels create their very personal microclimate, which is nice for the sheep.

“They shade the early morning pastures which prolongs the outcomes of the dew. That helps the grass develop. And the panels moreover give shade to sheep and security from frosts,” he said. “We would even have the power to run further sheep due to the native climate created by the panels, nevertheless, we’ll see.”

Fellow landholder Cameron Picket said the picture voltaic panels have helped to drought-proof his operation.

“The current grass and shade are an unimaginable combination,” he said. “We’re wanting forward to getting [the sheep] inside the sheds this winter for shearing, and their wool baled up for market.”

Acen said assessments of the agrivoltaic enterprise will proceed over a number of seasons to evaluate some great benefits of working sheep on the positioning. Nonetheless, it’s well-known that earlier picture voltaic grazing trials in western New South Wales have demonstrated an increase in carrying functionality and wool prime quality.

Work on the second stage of the New England Picture Voltaic Farm is anticipated to start out later this 12 months, whereas growth of the first stage of what’s going to in the end be a 200 MW / 400 MWh battery vitality storage system on the web site has already commenced.

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