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Solar sheep living in the PV plant in Donaustadt. You can visit them soon!, Source: GabeIglesia on Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.0

Vienna solar power plant uses help from sheep

Vienna solar power plant uses help from sheep

The animal lawnmowers for Austria’s largest photovoltaic system are 90 sheep

The time has come: 90 sheep have arrived in the Schafflerhofstrasse PV plant in Vienna - Donaustadt, the largest such in Austria. The area of more than 12 hectares is perfectly suited for grazing and in a bid to maximise the green efforts of the city, they decided to get eco-friendly lawnmowers. “They go together wonderfully,” said Climate Protection City Councilor Jürgen Czernohorszky.

Luckily, everything needed to make the solar farm suitable for sheep was already there

The panels are higher than normal and the electrical components are installed in a sheep-safe manner. A special seed mixture was sown to prepare the soil and the solar farm was already fenced in.

The panels themselves serve as shelter for the animals when it rains or shines and a farmer will check on the heard once per day.

The sheep not only deliver a perfectly trimmed lawn but also contribute to the biodiversity of the area, as they carry pollen and seeds in their wool.

The interaction between the environment and technology is crucial. This is an absolute showcase project here, open-space systems can be designed in an environmentally friendly way!", explained Michael Strebl, Chairman of the Wien Energie management board, the company that built the solar farm.

The large area is sectioned off so the flock does not get lost. The sheep need about five weeks to trim the whole field, carrying seeds and natural fertiliser over the plot. The animals will winter in a nearby barn.

The solar sheep farm is a prime example of an environmentally friendly and space-efficient project. The site was a former gravel dump of the city, but now it produces over 12-gigawatt hours of clean energy powering 4,900 Viennese households. This major climate protection project will save 4,200 tons of CO2 annually, putting Vienna on the track to carbon neutrality by the year 2040.

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