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Toxic Solar Farms? Just Add Sheep | Wondros EP 220

Originally aired on August 30, 2023

In this episode of Wondros, Dan Finnegan, the founder of Solar Shepherd LLC, discusses his innovative approach to utilizing solar farms for sustainable grazing. He highlights the benefits of combining clean energy and sheep farming, emphasizing how the sheep can help maintain the vegetation under the solar panels. By rotating the sheep in a grazing strategy, the land remains healthier, reducing the need for chemical pesticides and promoting carbon sequestration.  Finnegan explains how his background in corporate America and experience in the financial services industry led him to launch the solar grazing business. He also shares the challenges and opportunities of expanding the business, partnering with solar companies, and promoting local agriculture and clean energy.

The concept of solar grazing

  • Solar farms provide wide open spaces for clean energy production
  • Vegetation maintenance is crucial to ensure optimal solar panel performance
  • Sheep can be used to graze the land between the solar panels, reducing the need for toxic herbicides like Roundup

Benefits of solar grazing

  • Enhances soil health and carbon sequestration through rotational grazing
  • Reduces the risk of damage to expensive solar equipment during maintenance
  • Improves the aesthetics of solar farms by maintaining a green and lush appearance

Challenges and concerns of solar grazing

  • Ensuring animal welfare and responsible grazing practices by experienced farmers
  • Addressing potential conflicts with other wildlife and predators on the grazing sites
  • Need for ongoing monitoring and training to maintain high standards

Business model and clients

  • Solar Shepherd works with solar companies to manage vegetation on their sites
  • Focuses on building relationships with solar companies through networking and marketing
  • Offers a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution for solar farm maintenance

Scaling and expansion of solar grazing

  • Recognizing the need for additional pastures and land for expanding the sheep flocks
  • Partnering with agriculture industry groups, solar companies, and the federal government to promote solar grazing
  • Training and sharing best practices to ensure responsible and successful solar grazing operations

Future aspirations and industry growth

  • Encouraging other farmers to explore solar grazing as a means to sustain their farms
  • Fostering an industry of family farms and maintain profitability in the agricultural sector
  • Promoting the benefits of solar grazing for the environment, economy, and local communities