- Ingeteam is using flocks of sheep to keep vegetation down around solar panels with no need for machinery or herbicides.
- This scheme is aligned with Ingeteam's sustainability goals, as it not only avoids the use of herbicides but also fosters the development of local livestock farming.
- "Solar grazing" keeps 265 MW of solar power plants working on a site of around 700 hectares, reducing maintenance costs and eliminating environmental impact.
Ingeteam is engaged in a pioneering scheme for the maintenance of photovoltaic solar power plants that involves working with local shepherds. This mutual assistance system enables Ingeteam to offer more sustainable, environmentally-friendly maintenance and foster the development of rural areas at the same time.
The production of solar power as a sustainable resource has been given a boost in recent years. Ingeteam Service maintains around 8 GW of PV output at more than 550 solar plants all over the world, making it one of the sector's leading service providers.
However, there are still challenges to be tackled in large-scale solar power plant operation and maintenance. Solar panels need space, occupying land traditionally used for farming. Grass, weeds and other vegetation cast shadows that prevent plants from running optimally.
Sites also need to be mown, cleared and cleaned up, which means that someone must access the restricted areas below the facilities. Herbicides need to be used to prevent uncontrolled growth of vegetation and ensure that PV farms work properly.
In this context, Ingeteam has set up a solar grazing scheme, consisting of having flocks of sheep grazing on PV farms. This keeps 265 MW of solar power plants working on a site of around 700 hectares, reducing maintenance costs and eliminating the environmental impact caused by conventional methods.
Using sheep as a natural way of helping to maintain plants is in line with Ingeteam's environmentally-friendly principles, but it also has clear advantages. For instance, grazing helps keep down the vegetation around the panels, thus ensuring consistent, optimum performance at the plant; it eliminates the need for machinery and chemicals; and it enables local sheep farmers to share the land used for renewable energy production.
The presence of shepherds on the site also reduces the risk of theft. The panels provide shade, protection and shelter for pregnant ewes, foster development and prevent population loss in rural areas.