Austrian agrivoltaic project includes sheep farming


From pv magazine Germany.

With Vienna hugely promoting renewables, power company Wien Energie has asked German project developer Maxsolar for an 11.5 MW photovoltaic, ground-mounted system on a former gravel dump.

The project will have an agrivoltaic element as 150 Jura mountain sheep will graze between the 25,780 solar panels as “wandering lawnmowers” between April and October each year. The planners are also considering whether to include arable farming at the project.

“In order to offer the sheep an optimal pasture area, special precautions are taken,” said Maxsolar. “Pasture seeds are sown, the photovoltaic modules are mounted slightly higher and all electrical components are well protected.”

The modules – some of them vertical, east-west oriented bifacial panels – will offer shelter to the sheep and tractor cultivation would be possible of grains and vegetables grown between rows.

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The 12.5ha solar park would be Vienna's largest and one of the biggest in Austria and Maxsolar said dual use could see the site, which is set to be commissioned in December, used 60% more efficiently.

“One of the central questions of the energy transition is how the expansion of ground-mounted PV systems will have the most positive effect on environmental protection, agriculture and nature conservation,” said Maxsolar spokesman Thomas Hager.

Power company MD Michael Strebl added: “Wien Energie has been massively promoting the expansion of solar power for years. Our focus is on the roofs of the city but that alone will not achieve the climate targets. Here at Schafflerhofstrasse, we are showing that ground-mounted systems also fit perfectly into the climate protection concept if they are designed carefully.”

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