In August 2020, Dandelion Renewables installed a Municipal Solar Farm in Bon Accord with 1728 x LONGi, 375W bifacial solar modules, and 648kW DC Power Rating.
The farm was built to be large enough to produce enough power to make the community a net-zero community. In 10 year’s time, Ken Reil, operations manager for the Town of Bon Accord, believes that the farm will help put approximately $65,000 back into their revenue stream as opposed to having to pay a power bill. After the 10 years of payback, the solar farm will provide at least 15 years of revenue generation. Since the start of the 2021 year, the farm had produced more than 636 megawatt-hours of electricity.
The solar farm is spread over acres of green land, although mowing the grass a couple times a year is not that expensive, but it requires fuel-based options with a high carbon footprint that nullify the point of a net-zero community for which the solar farm was installed.
A Sheep Solution
During the summer, the grass around Bon Accord can grow to about one meter high. Although this does not sound like an issue, it could cast a shadow over the panels affecting the total energy production.
Naturally, solar farms produce the most energy during the summer months, hence why the municipality was looking for a viable solution that would help them to manage vegetation without conflicting with the net-zero community ideology.
The idea of sheep grazing came as a natural solution for the project. Unlike cows and goats, sheep can be trusted to eat the grass without chewing on or rubbing against the solar equipment.
The Town of Bon Accord called Morinville Colony manager John Wurz, who agreed to provide the sheep for free.
Team Of 30 No-Tech “Lawnmowers”
A team of 30 sheep from Morinville Colony arrived at the Bon Accord Solar Farm on June 16, 2021. These sheep were recruited by the town to cut/eat the grass around its 648 kWp solar array.
The 30 sheep were selected from a list of 650 sheep bred in the Morinville Colony. The sheep the colony used for lawn care were all purebred females that were kept for up to 10 years for breeding purposes. Four different breeds of sheep were selected from the flock. Among the four breeds of sheep include Suffolks and North Country Cheviots.
The team was also accompanied by two dogs for protection purposes. According to Wurz, this was actually the second time in about 15 years that the colony had used sheep to mow grass around Bon Accord.
Morinville is also providing paid lawn-care services in a forestry cut-block near Peace River, Alberta. These mowing jobs are a win-win for sheep and clients, as they provide lawn care for the customer and food for the sheep.
Project Success & Future
Due to the success of the mowing by the sheep the Town of Bon Accord has stated that they plan on bringing back the sheep for as long as the colony can provide them.
If you are looking for creative, out of the box, renewable energy solutions like the one displayed above then do not hesitate to reach out to us by clicking the contact button below to start your solar journey with Dandelion Renewables – The Renewable Energy Experts.
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