Solar Panels Shade Cattle In Win-Win For Agribusiness

A California solar developer has installed nearly half a megawatt of solar power on a cattle feedlot. It serves not only to cut the industrial cattle farm’s electric bill, but it also supplies shade to the cattle as they live out their peaceful lives.

For agribusiness, the bonus of solar power modules to supply cooling shade to animals on a feedlot while also simultaneously generating electricity is an obvious win-win — and one that can easily apply wherever shade is needed on a farm. When there can be open air underneath, it also serves to cool the solar modules, which makes them more efficient as well.


image via Independent Solar Developers

Independent Solar Developers (or as the company’s website is more memorably named) claims that it has been the first to install, commission and operate a solar “roof” to supply both electricity and shade for a cattle feedlot using CPV.

The 2-year-old company’s business model is aimed at a large agribusiness customer that has an energy bill of between 3 and 6 percent of farm revenue, and energy bills of more than $300,000 a year.

This Imperial Valley feedlot project uses concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology — also called concentrated photovoltaic — in a 480-kilowatt system. According to the developer, the array provides the farm with the equivalent of enough energy to serve 100 home. How much of the farm’s electric need is met with the system was not said.

Although the press release and the website make no mention of which company is the supplier of this ingenious tracking system or of the CPV — a less-common form of solar that focuses and concentrates tiny mirrors on PV cells — the field is dominated by Solfocus, and they do utilize ground mount with trackers that further increase efficiency. Late last year we wrote about a pilot project in El Paso, Texas, that’s using the SolFocus tracking system.

Susan Kraemer enjoys writing to publicize the many great solutions for climate change that we can find if we just put our minds to it. She covers renewable policy and clean energy for CleanTechnica and GreenProphet and green building at HomeDesignFind. She recently moved home to Waiheke Island where her writing is now powered by the 80% renewable electricity that powers New Zealand.


  • Reply June 25, 2012


    The CPV system is by Greenvolts.

    • Reply June 25, 2012


      Funny thing, I was just looking at the GreenVolts website earlier today and you’re right — that is their distinctive-looking system, with the green mounting standard etc. Thanks!
      Pete Danko

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