Dominion Vitality employs 17,000 folks throughout the nation. Now, about 1,000 sheep work for the ability firm as properly.
In a course of referred to as photo voltaic grazing, sheep eat vegetation on photo voltaic farms to cut back the necessity for lawnmowers and different landscaping equipment.
“Photo voltaic and sheep—they’re each environmentally pleasant options,” stated Tim Eberly, a senior communications specialist for Dominion.
Extra analysis is being carried out lately to look into the advantages of photo voltaic grazing. Decreasing prices and emissions from landscaping are two of the most important pluses, in line with the American Photo voltaic Grazing Affiliation, a company that promotes sheep grazing for photo voltaic farms.
Richmond-based Dominion Vitality began utilizing sheep for photo voltaic grazing in October. The corporate deploys sheep at six of its photo voltaic farms in Sussex, Greensville, Louisa, Mecklenburg, Middlesex and Pittsylvania counties.
The variety of sheep on every farm relies on the scale of the photo voltaic set up, Eberly stated. About 100 sheep can keep the grass on the Sussex photo voltaic farm. The positioning incorporates over 80,000 photo voltaic panels on 216 acres and might generate as much as 20 megawatts every day, sufficient to energy 5,000 houses.
The sheep take shelter beneath the photo voltaic panels and rotate the place they graze every day.
Jess and Marcus Grey launched a enterprise, Grey’s Lambscaping, in Southside Virginia, utilizing their sheep for vegetation management. She works as CEO and he’s president. Collectively, with their border collies, Journey and Myra, they go to the totally different Dominion Vitality photo voltaic farms to inspect the sheep.
Earlier than the pandemic, Jess Grey was a school discipline hockey coach and Marcus Grey was a wildlife biologist. She wished to work together with her arms extra, so that they began the agricultural enterprise.
“I wished to, on the finish of the day, really feel like I made a distinction a way, one way or the other,” Jess Grey stated.
Grey’s Lambscaping is the principle photo voltaic grazing contractor with Dominion, and one other farmer retains sheep at one of many websites.
On the photo voltaic farms, Journey and Myra reply to calls and whistle instructions to herd the sheep to totally different areas. One other canine helps to guard the animals from predators, together with exterior canines, foxes and bears.
The sheep are additionally cared for by different shepherds employed by Dominion, they usually obtain common visits from a veterinarian, Jess Grey stated.
Ecological advantages from the grazing embrace the sheep including natural matter to the soil, which retains the bottom wholesome and fertile, and decreasing runoff by growing the soil’s water holding capability, Marcus Grey stated.
The usage of sheep has not absolutely eradicated the necessity for landscaping but. Eberly stated the work between sheep and landscaping is at a 50-50 break up, and the objective is to get it to a 75-25 sheep-to-landscaping ratio.
This summer season is the primary rising season the sheep have been by, and Dominion remains to be assessing whether or not having the sheep is cost-effective for the corporate, Eberly stated.
“It is a photo voltaic farm, and clearly that is a very priceless factor for us and for the neighborhood, residents of Virginia,” Eberly stated. “However to have the ability to have an agricultural use of the land too is very nice, as a result of we’re getting as a lot out of the land as we will.”
2023 The Virginian-Pilot. Distributed by Tribune Content material Company, LLC.
These sheep present environmentally pleasant landscaping at photo voltaic farms (2023, August 9)
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