Solar-Sheep Farms Are the Way to Go
Solar-sheep farms seem like a no brainer with benefits in land usage, energy production, and sheep farming. This dual-use renewable energy system’s benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the near-nonexistent deficits. The sheep act as low emission lawnmowers. The energy from the solar can power farms where energy, wool, and meat production can occur in one place. Not to mention, it saves land.
Solar power and sheep have a perfectly symbiotic relationship. While solar panels work as windbreakers and create shade for the sheep, the sheep trim the grass, so it doesn’t grow too high and disturb energy transformation. Furthermore, sheep feed on a variety of grasses among the solar array and fertilize the land with their manure. The only challenge might be making sure the sheep have enough water -- which can be sustainably remedied by salvaging rainwater and setting up trowels for the sheep.
The only challenge might be finding the right location. In West Virginia, hundreds of square miles of former mine lands await re-use. These extensive properties are already fitted with roads, power lines, and nearby energy markets, making them the perfect place to begin. Additionally, the Agricultural Resilience Act recently passed, allowing solar panels to be built on previous mine lands. Using old mine lands avoids clearing forests for solar fields and boosts the local West Virginian economy. Similarly, in Nevada, if solar energy fields replace former minefields and brownfields, the energy produced would be enough to power 3.8 million homes.
With our country going into an economic recession and our natural world under intense environmental stress due to emission levels, dual-use renewable energy systems could transform our economy and our planet. The combination of renewable energy and farming onto the same land significantly reduces land taxes and maintenance costs. Subsequently, minimizing land use saves biodiversity from being destroyed due to less motive to find new land by cutting or burning down forests.
Freehill-Maye, Lynn. “Should Land Be Used for Solar Panels or Agriculture?” Greenbiz, 26 Mar. 2020, www.greenbiz.com/article/should-land-be-used-solar-panels-or-agriculture.
Pingree, and Chellie. “Text - H.R.5861 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Agriculture Resilience Act.” Congress.gov, 12 Feb. 2020, www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5861/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22sheep%2Bsolar%22%5D%7D&r=1&s=4#toc-HCE1B6B0304024A6FA577B6F372A4D573.
Runyon, Jennifer. “Mining the Sun: How Nevada and West Virginia Are Reclaiming Former Mine Lands with Solar Panels.” Renewable Energy World, 13 Apr. 2020, www.renewableenergyworld.com/2020/04/13/mining-the-sun-how-nevada-and-west-virginia-are-reclaiming-former-mine-lands-with-solar-panels/?topic=245562.