🐑 Solar grazing uses sheep to control the vegetation under and around solar panel arrays on solar farms.

🐑 Solar grazing can benefit both solar developers and sheep farmers as it can lower maintenance costs.

🐑 Solar grazing can also have a positive environmental impact by creating a biodiverse environment.

Solar energy is one of the most promising sources of renewable energy, but it also poses some challenges for land use and management.

How can we make the best use of the land that is covered by solar panels?

How can we ensure that solar farms or solar parks do not compete with agriculture or harm the environment?

One possible answer is solar grazing, a practice that combines solar power generation and livestock farming in a mutually beneficial way.

What is Solar Grazing?

Solar grazing is the practice of letting sheep or other livestock graze on the land where solar panels are installed. The solar panels are usually mounted on poles or frames that leave enough space for the animals to move around and eat the grass and weeds. Some solar panels can also rotate or form a canopy to adjust the amount of sunlight and shade.

Solar grazing is a form of agrivoltaics, which is the integration of agriculture and solar electricity generation. Agrivoltaics aims to use the land for both energy and food production, without compromising either. Agrivoltaics can also include growing crops under or around solar panels, but solar grazing is more common and easier to implement.

TSE.energy livestock shading system developed for livestock farming provides rotating shade to mitigate the effects of climate change on grassland and livestock.

What are the Benefits of Solar Grazing?

Solar grazing offers many benefits for both the solar industry and the farmers. Here are some of them:

1. Reduced maintenance costs

Sheep are natural lawn mowers that keep the vegetation under control, preventing it from shading the solar panels or creating possible fire hazards. This reduces the need for manual, chemical, or mechanical methods of vegetation management like mowing or herbicides which can be costly or environmentally unfriendly.

2. Increased electricity production

Sheep also create a cool and humid microclimate under the solar panels, which improves their performance. Solar panels work best at temperatures below 25°C (77°F), and they can generate 10% more electricity when they are above plants than when they are on bare ground or soil.

3. Improved animal welfare

Sheep enjoy the shade and shelter provided by the solar panels, which protect them from heat stress and predators. A research study found that sheep that had access to a field with solar panels were happier and healthier than those that did not. They also spent more time grazing, resting, and socializing, and less time standing idle.

4. Enhanced biodiversity

Sheep help to fertilize the soil and promote the growth of diverse plant species, which in turn provide habitat for insects, bees, birds, and small mammals. Solar farms with sheep grazing have higher biodiversity than those without. Biodiversity is important for ecosystem health and resilience.

5. Additional income for farmers

Solar grazing provides farmers with an opportunity to earn extra income by leasing their land or their sheep flock to solar companies. They can also save money on feed and fertilizer costs by using the grass and weeds on the solar farm site. Solar grazing allows farmers to keep their land in agricultural use and diversify their revenues.

What are the Challenges of Solar Grazing?

Solar grazing is not without challenges, however. Some of them are:

1. Lack of awareness and regulation

Solar grazing is still a relatively new concept, and many people are not aware of its benefits or how to implement it. There are also no clear regulations or standards for solar grazing in many places, which can create uncertainty and confusion for both solar developers and farmers.

2. Logistical issues

Solar grazing requires careful planning and coordination between the solar company and the farmer. They need to agree on the terms of the contract, such as the duration, frequency, and intensity of grazing, as well as the responsibilities and liabilities of each party. They also need to ensure that the solar site is suitable and safe for grazing, with adequate fencing, water supply, and access roads.

3. Potential conflicts

Solar grazing may not be compatible with some types of solar projects or some types of livestock. For example, some solar panels may be too low or too close together for sheep to graze comfortably. Some sheep breeds may be too aggressive or too curious for solar panels. Some solar sites may be too far away or too small for sheep to graze efficiently.

How to Promote Solar Grazing?

Solar grazing has great potential to create a win-win situation for renewable energy and agriculture, but it also needs more support and recognition from various stakeholders. Here are some ways to promote solar grazing:

1. Educate and inform

There is a need to raise awareness and understanding of solar grazing among the public, policymakers, regulators, researchers, educators, media, and other relevant groups. This can be done through various channels, such as websites, social media, newsletters, podcasts, webinars, workshops, field days, conferences, publications, etc.

2. Collaborate and network

There is a need to foster collaboration and communication among different actors involved in solar grazing, such as solar developers, farmers, landowners, utilities, environmental groups, animal welfare groups, etc. This can be done through various platforms, such as associations, coalitions, alliances, forums, committees, etc.

3. Incentivize and reward

There is a need to provide incentives and recognition for solar grazing, such as tax credits, grants, subsidies, certifications, awards, etc. This can help to overcome some of the barriers and challenges of solar grazing, such as high upfront costs, low profitability, or lack of market demand.


Solar grazing is a promising practice that can help to address some of the challenges of land use and management in the context of renewable energy and agriculture. Solar grazing can benefit both the solar industry and the farmers by reducing maintenance costs, increasing electricity production, improving animal welfare, enhancing biodiversity, and providing additional income. Solar grazing also needs more awareness, regulation, coordination, and support to overcome some of the logistical, technical, and social issues that may arise. Solar grazing is not a silver bullet, but it is a valuable tool that can help to create a more sustainable and harmonious future for both energy and food production.

Do you have land for Solar Grazing?

The UK is now home to hundreds of solar farms that are transforming the way we produce and consume energy. They are not only providing green, renewable and locally sourced power to millions of homes and businesses, but also creating jobs, supporting communities and enhancing biodiversity. Solar farms are a win-win solution for the environment and the economy. Do you have land in the UK that could be suitable for a solar farm or solar grazing? If so, we would love to hear from you! We are looking for landowners who share our vision of powering the UK on solar energy. Together, we can make a difference, by building more solar farms that benefit everyone in not only the short-term, but also in the long-term.

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Grazing

Can cattle graze around solar panels?

No, sheep can help to clear the unwanted vegetation that could shade the solar panels, by walking and foraging on the land. To avoid damaging low-mounted solar arrays, other animals such as goats, cows, pigs, and horses are not suitable, but high-mounted solar arrays that are 5m/16.4ft high can be grazed by cattle.

Can you graze animals on a solar farm?

Depending on the previous land use and the quality of the pasture, the solar farm may have more livestock grazing on it throughout the year. The decision to do so is up to the solar developer, the landowner, or the farmer who has the right to use the land.

Are UK solar farms profitable?

The average ROI (return on investment) for a solar farm in the UK is between 10 to 20%. Meaning, most solar farms pay off their installation costs within the first five to ten years. After that they are pretty much printing free money. As long as they are well maintained and offer consistent, reliable energy production.

Is solar a threat to UK farmland?

The biggest threat to British food production and security is not solar PV generation on moderate quality agricultural land, but is in fact climate change . As the 2022 summer heatwave has shown, the UK is poorly equipped to deal with the extremes wrought by a changing climate.

Where is the biggest solar farm in UK?

At 72.2MWp, Shotwick Solar Park is the largest solar park in the UK and the largest private wire connection in the UK. Located in Deeside, Flintshire, the solar park supports the UPM paper manufacturing plant which operates 24/7 and manufactures 100% recycled paper.

How many acres do you need for a solar farm UK?

Based on the average annual consumption of a household, for every 5 megawatts (MW) of solar PV installed, a solar farm will power approximately 1,500 homes for a year. Approximately 25 acres of land is required for every 5 megawatts (MW) of solar PV installation.

How much does it cost to build a 1 acre solar farm UK?

It costs around £8,000 to £10,000 to buy one acre of land in the UK. You could fit around 4,000 solar panels on an acre, which would cost around £3 million to buy and install. You will also have to pay additional costs for connecting your panels to the National Grid, and for solar panel maintenance and cleaning.

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