Community solar company Nexamp has kicked off a new solar grazing program with the deployment of approximately 150 sheep on a project in Newfield, N.Y.
The sheep, provided by a local farmer, will be used to provide sustainable vegetation management at the site throughout the growing season.
“Subscribers get involved with our community solar program for two reasons: They save money on their electricity costs, and they support the growth of clean, renewable energy in their local community,” says Zaid Ashai, Nexamp CEO. “Because sustainability is such a key part of our DNA as a community solar provider, the ability to further reduce carbon emissions with solar grazing is very appealing. We no longer have gas-powered equipment running on the site, and we are able to provide a steady stream of income to the sheep farmers while the sheep enjoy a safe, healthy environment in which to graze.”
More sheep are being placed at the 30-acre Newfield site as the season progresses. Nexamp also is implementing solar grazing at a site in Seneca, N.Y., with more than 40 sheep already deployed. The company will soon begin a program at an Upton, Mass., site, as well.
Upstate New York sheep farmers Lexie Hain and Lewis Fox of Agrivoltaic Solutions are providing sheep for the two New York sites. The two have also teamed up to co-found the American Solar Grazing Association, which will offer resources and guidance for sheep farmers and serve as a connection point for members and solar developers.
“Sheep are very efficient eaters and are really well-suited to this kind of application,” explains Hain. “They will eat almost anything that grows, maintaining an ideal vegetation height to prevent shading on solar panels. Existing perimeter fences at the solar farms protect them from predators, and the panels themselves provide shelter from rain, wind and direct sun on hot days. It’s a fantastic opportunity for sheep farmers to generate extra income in a mutually beneficial environment.”
“Putting a flock out on a solar farm means I can preserve my own pasture and stock hay for the winter months, lowering my overall costs at the same time that I am adding revenue from the solar developer,” adds Fox.
Nexamp will continue to expand its solar grazing program throughout 2019.