Maoneng Group, who started building the solar farm in March after winning a tender in the ACT government’s first large-scale renewables reverse auction, has this week launched its own, rather unusual, tender – for a flock of sheep.
The company is seeking expressions of interest for a farmer or community group to graze 100-150 head of sheep within the Mugga Lane Solar Park – an area of around 46 hectares at the intersection of Mugga Lane and Monaro Highway in the ACT.
“Applicants must maintain the livestock inclusive of drenching, crutching, shearing, veterinarian costs and portable pens,” the tender says, adding that “weathers or non-lambing ewes are preferred.”
The owners of the solar park, which began generating power in mid-November, will provide and maintain fencing, two water troughs and a small holding paddock with all-weather accessibility.
Maoneng’s Shaun Curran said the deal, which would be a quid pro quo “cost neutral” affair, would provide a local farmer or community group with free and secure grazing, while for the Solar Farm, it would provide free lawn mowing and reduce the site’s fire risk.
“You always see the sheep in the glossy brochures,” Curran told One Step Off The Grid over the phone on Friday. “We’re hoping to prove that it can be done.”
“We’ve got a little bit of interest; three or four interested parties,” he added, noting that interest was coming from both “sides of the fence” – local farmers, as well as local community groups looking to farm a small number of sheep.
Curran also noted that sheep, while preferred, were possibly not the only livestock option.
“There was a large mob of kangaroos on site when it was first being developed,” he said. “So they could work too. They’re similar to sheep; not too destructive. They don’t want to rub up against the panels.”
Either way, Curran is confident the Solar Park will have its maintenance crew by January, 2017 – and has promised to update us on the tender’s progress.
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