The National Center for Appropriate Technology’s (NCAT) AgriSolar Clearinghouse today premiered its short film “The Solar Shepherd” during the 2023 Solar Farm Summit in Chicago.
The film showcases a family-owned farm in central Massachusetts that’s raising sheep and solar energy on the same piece of land. AgriSolar or agrivoltaic partnerships are growing across solar-appropriate farmland in the U.S., providing a new revenue source for farmers, clean energy for surrounding communities, and myriad benefits to crops, livestock, and pollinators.
“It’s been a wonderful friendship between the two businesses,” says Solar Shepherd LLC founder Dan Finnegan. “We can’t access enough land to keep our farm sustainable, without this partnership with solar, we wouldn’t have a successful farm, we simply don’t have enough acres to graze.”
Finnegan partnered with SWEB Development Inc. on the 15-acre solar array which provides enough clean energy to power 1,100 homes and has so-far raised 45 lambs to maturity.
“You can have this partnership in a one-acre field, a 15-acre field up to a couple hundred acres,” says Joe Mendelsohn, project developer with SWEB Development Inc.
NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse is connecting businesses, land managers, and researchers with trusted resources to support the growth of co-located solar and sustainable agriculture.
“Tremendous potential exists in partnerships between farmers and solar developers,” says NCAT Energy Director Stacie Peterson, PhD. “As the demand for solar energy grows, it’s up to us to be good stewards of the finite land resources we have and maximize the benefit to farmers, communities, and the environment.”