A small flock of sheep is helping University of Queensland scientists to cut the cost of operating Australia’s largest solar research centre in the Lockyer Valley, West of Brisbane according to ABC News.
Maintaining the grass between the 37,320 solar panels on the 11.5-hectare site has proven to be a challenge. The cost of maintaining and mowing, which takes up four days to complete, came in at nearly $50,000 over the first 12 months of the solar farm’s operation. Thus Andrew Wilson, University of Queensland energy and sustainability manager, brought 10 sheep to graze permanently on the site.
According to Wilson, there’s great grass available to the flock and the fact that they have solar panels also provides great shading for the animals on really hot days. He said the University of Queensland is considering to expand the area on the solar farm available to the sheep.
The flock is currently maintaining an area of around 4.5 hectares and soon they will expand that to additional 2.5 hectares and in total they’ll be managing about 60% of the solar facility’s grass. The sheep will significantly cut down mowing and maintenance costs of the facility.
The sheep were brought in from the University’s School of Veterinary Science and they remain a part of the school’s teaching and research programs. Putting the flock on the solar farm has also freed up agricultural land on the campus for other activities.
The solar farm went online at the Gatton Campus in March last year and in 12 months the facility cut down grid electricity use at the campus by about 40%.
Featured Image Credit: ABC News