Solar panels thrive where farms struggle in Virginia with agrivoltaics.

By Oliver Townsend Jun 18, 2024
Agrivoltaics enables solar on challenging terrain in Virginia.jpegOrginal image from: https://solarbuildermag.com/projects/agrivoltaics-enables-solar-on-challenging-terrain-in-virginia/

When it comes to solar energy projects, finding the perfect location can be a challenge. However, with the innovative solution of agrivoltaics, even challenging terrains in Virginia can now host solar panels. Energy Support Services, a subsidiary of New Energy Equity LLC, has partnered with DSD Renewables to implement agrivoltaics at a solar energy site in Winchester, Virginia. This groundbreaking project involves using sheep and pigs to manage vegetation at a 1.8 MW ground-mounted solar project located at The Village at Orchard Ridge (TVOR), a Lutheran retirement community. This innovative approach not only allows for the installation of solar panels in areas previously deemed impossible but also provides a sustainable solution for vegetation management.

The Benefits of Agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics is a cost-efficient and innovative strategy that enables solar installation in challenging terrains. By partnering with local businesses like Katahdin Acres, the Winchester community is working together to generate renewable energy effectively. This approach not only benefits the environment but also the local community by creating a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Addressing Concerns and Ensuring Success

Initially, there were concerns from residents at the retirement community regarding the welfare of the animals used for vegetation management. However, through collaboration and communication, Energy Support Services, DSD Renewables, and Katahdin Acres were able to address these concerns and ensure the well-being of the animals. By providing a safe environment for the sheep and pigs to graze, the project not only maintains the solar project grounds but also promotes a harmonious relationship between renewable energy initiatives and local communities.

Success and Sustainability

The vegetation management strategy implemented at the TVOR solar project has been tremendously successful. With maintenance costs reduced by 60% compared to traditional mowing methods, agrivoltaics has proven to be a sustainable and cost-effective solution. Additionally, the improved forage profile on site has led to the birth of lambs this spring, further showcasing the benefits of using sheep and pigs for vegetation management in solar projects.

Conclusion

Agrivoltaics is revolutionizing the solar energy industry by making it possible to install solar panels in challenging terrains while promoting sustainable vegetation management practices. By leveraging the benefits of agrivoltaics, solar projects can now thrive in locations that were previously considered unsuitable. This innovative approach not only benefits the environment but also strengthens the relationship between renewable energy initiatives and local communities. As we continue to explore new ways to harness solar energy, agrivoltaics stands out as a promising solution for a greener and more sustainable future.

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