Cattle have recently been added to the workforce of over 500 construction workers at the 550 megawatt Topaz Solar Farms project in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., that First Solar is building for MidAmerican Solar. The bovine contingent, a hand-selected herd on loan from a local rancher, is charged with vegetation management on several thousand acres of project and stewardship land, helping to reduce fire hazard in the hot, dry summer months. The approach, which is both traditional and unconventional, aligns with First Solar’s commitment to sustainable development: avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating environmental impacts. First Solar worked closely with local and national conservation groups to ensure Topaz addressed all environmental concerns in developing and constructing the project. Sheep grazing is also being considered as a similarly benign vegetation control method during the wetter winter growing season.
Continue Reading »