What’s New in Utility-Scale Agrivoltaics and ESG Solutions?
Silicon Ranch acquires sheep flock to expand self-perform and keep more solar land in agricultural production
Posted by Chris Ann Lunghino | February 28, 2022
This month, we’re celebrating another pioneering event, both for the solar industry and for Silicon Ranch, a leading U.S. ESG solutions provider and the operator of the nation’s largest agrivoltaics platform: the acquisition of our own flock of sheep to manage vegetation and restore the grassland ecosystems at our growing portfolio of “self-perform” solar ranches.
Watch these videos documenting this exciting first:
Preparing our flock to load up and travel from Tennessee to Georgia (their first truck ride ever!)
Our working dog Dougal, who is very happy to be back at work, shepherding the flock post-truck ride to their new home under the solar panels at Snipesville Solar Ranch in Georgia
How We Arrived at This Landmark
In 2019, Silicon Ranch launched Regenerative Energy®, the company’s utility-scale agrivoltaics platform that marries clean solar energy generation and regenerative agriculture on one piece of land.
Since then, the company has worked in partnership with world-renowned regenerative ranchers and local farmers and ranchers to implement regenerative agriculture and other regenerative pastureland management practices on our solar farms, keeping land in agricultural production and restoring it to a functioning grassland ecosystem. These regenerative practices make solar do more, including sequestering carbon in the soil, restoring soil health, improving water quality and infiltration, and enhancing biodiversity.
In 2021, to build on our capacity to deliver Regenerative Energy® via rancher and farmer partnerships, Silicon Ranch launched our self-perform program. This innovative program trains and employs the world’s first-ever agrivoltaic technicians to implement both regenerative land management and non-technical, non-electric solar maintenance. The agrivoltaic technicians employ holistic planned sheep grazing as the primary vegetation management tool and to restore grasslands on select projects.
As the operator of the country’s largest utility-scale agrivoltaics platform, Silicon Ranch has scaled Regenerative Energy® from a 50-acre pilot on one operating solar farm in the fall of 2018 to a 12,500-acre program in 2022.
How Are Self-Perform and Owning our Own Flock of Sheep Making Solar Do More?
Expanding our capacity to implement Regenerative Energy® across more acres in our solar farm portfolio.
Our growing team of on-staff agrivoltaic technicians and our recently-hired sheep production expert provide valuable efficiencies and flexibility that enable us to implement Regenerative Energy® across more acres. The acquisition of our own flock of sheep further expands our ability to scale up our agrivoltaics portfolio because it allows us to build up flock capacity that thrives in the ecosystems of the Southeast.
Creating new professional jobs, providing higher wages, and boosting the local economy
Under our self-perform program, we aim to hire our agrivoltaic technicians locally, creating new employment and professional training opportunities for historically economically distressed communities in rural America. Our positions pay well above the median household income in these communities. We equip our new ranching operations in partnership with local agricultural equipment dealers, seed companies, livestock consultants, and veterinarians, providing a direct boost to the local economy. This injection of dollars through new wages and local purchasing of goods and services has a ripple effect on the economy at large that will lead to increased demand for products and services in the area and additional spending that will directly benefit local and regional businesses.
Building expertise and improving outcomes
Our self-perform staff members and regenerative ranching partners are sharing holistic planned sheep management and production technical expertise and lessons learned, improving practices and outcomes across our entire agrivoltaic portfolio.
Strengthening regional lamb production capacity
Market demand for U.S.-raised grassfed lamb continues to increase, and we will be expanding our lamb flock to meet this growing demand. As our flock grows from about 1,000 in 2022 to 20,000-30,000 in 2030, we’re developing and institutionalizing best management practices with strategic partners to build resilience in the lamb supply chain.