Often opponents of solar energy projects will talk about the loss of agricultural land that is used for solar energy installations. But a Middlesex Country, Virginia solar project, run by Dominion Energy, is demonstrating that certain kinds of agriculture and solar installations actually can work together well.
On this 150-acre site about a hundred sheep “keep the burgeoning plant life of a Middlesex County field in the spring and summer from blocking too much sun from panels.” The farmer actually gets paid for the use of the land - rather than having to pay to rent it - which makes financial viability easier, particularly for those just getting started in farming. Marcus Gray who is new to farming, owns the sheep that are grazing on this site and this pilot project (consisting of this site and 5 others) has proved so successful that Dominion Energy is looking at replicating it at other facilities.
The use of sheep has cut the need for fuel for mowers to keep vegetation down by 50% and the manure left by the sheep is improving the quality of the land that the solar panels sit on (as is evidenced by the presence of greenery that indicates better soil nutrition). The sheep are a good choice for this type of symbiotic system as their smaller size, as compared to cattle, allows them to get under the solar. And unlike goats, they will only eat the grass and not interfere with the panels by eating wires or leaping on the panels.