Stung by high fuel costs and a labor squeeze, some clean energy companies are turning to an unlikely ally — flocks of sheep — to keep their solar panels out of the shade.
The nascent practice, known as solar grazing, is so far used on only a tiny sliver of the expansive arrays of panels that are increasingly dotting rural America. But with significant financial benefits to both the renewable energy industry and the struggling mutton sector, more solar sites in the US are expected to start swapping lawnmowers for lambs.
The US solar industry has been growing rapidly: The country is expected to break solar-construction records this year by adding more than 32 gigawatts of capacity, according to a BloombergNEF outlook. That’s enough to power more than 25 million homes. At the same time, there are concerns there won’t be enough cropland to feed a growing world population, especially if acreage is covered by buildings, roads or photovoltaic installations instead.
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