Victoria’s 50MW(AC) Gannawarra solar farm, which for now holds the title of Australia’s largest pairing of a solar farm and a grid-scale battery system, has a woolly new string to its bow, with the addition of 300 sheep to help manage vegetation at the site.
Wirsol, which co-owns the Gannawarra solar and battery project with Edify Energy – 94.9% and 5.1% shares respectively for the solar component, and a 50:50 share for the 25MW/50MWh Tesla big battery – welcomed the four-legged tenants last month, as part of a month-long sheep-grazing trial.
Wirsol said on LinkedIn that the trial would continue “into the foreseeable future” depending on its success, with early reports on the experiment proving to be positive, so far.
“Dual use of solar farms in ways such as this makes extremely efficient use of the land!” Wirsol said in the post. “Local farmers benefit from the ability to rotate livestock across grazing areas, which is of great value to Australia’s critical and world leading agriculture industry.
“And while the sheep munch away, Australian homes and businesses are being supplied with the cheapest and cleanest energy on the planet from the solar panels above them!”
Wirsol also noted that the number of sheep grazing amid the solar panels might even be increased by the project’s grazier partners if the vegetation/feed capacity of the site supported it.
The Gannawarra solar and energy storage project near Kerang in western Victoria had its official launch in June of 2019, at which time it housed Tesla’s second-biggest battery in the country.
It has been a key energy investment for Victoria’s Labor Andrews government, which tipped $25 million into both Gannawarra and the Ballarat energy storage system in a bid to address “known stress points” in the state’s electricity network.
Gannawarra has also sealed an energy off-take deal with EnergyAustralia, and a first-of-a-kind commercial services agreement with the utility.