Special PV plant design for livestock in Taiwan


Taiwanese state-run utility Taipower is experimenting with PV installations on land used for cattle grazing at a former mining waste disposal site in rural Shuili, Nantou County.

The Taiwan Council of Agriculture is supporting the project, which has been designed to determine whether cows can be used instead of lawnmowers to control weed growth. The company is deploying a 9 MW solar plant at the site, with the first 1 MW section going online earlier this month. Initially, two cows will be brought to the site for weed-control purposes.

The first module installed by Taipower at the site.

Image: Taipower

The PV panels have been installed at a height of more than 3 meters to allow the cows to graze beneath them. The mounting structures are also not stuck into the ground, but are placed within special concrete bases, which can be easily removed. Taipower said the special design will reduce the environmental impact of the project.

“The photovoltaic park needs to be weeded to maintain the power generation efficiency,” the company said, adding that it will not use any herbicide at the site.

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The two cows, named Biggie and WanWan, are expected to help keep weed growth under control, Taipower said, without elaborating on the matter. The company did note that a number of unspecified, similar projects in other countries have served as a model to follow.

Similar solar projects are now being planned in Denmark and Malaysia, among other countries. A large German sheep-farming company also said in March that it was seeking PV asset owners to allow its animals ti graze sustainably at solar project sites, in a move that could be a win-win situation for everyone.

The German company said it was searching for grassland, rather than wasteland. Technically, the bottom edges of the modules should be at least 70 centimeters above the ground, so the animals can pass beneath them. In addition, the cables should be firmly attached so that no snares or loops endanger the animals.

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