Solar power is gaining huge popularity worldwide. It is being regarded as the new cash crop, offering superior benefits to traditional crops. If you own a large piece of land, harvesting solar power on the property can be a great option.
This ultimate guide can help you learn everything about solar panel farming and how you should get started.
What is Solar Farm?
Solar farms are large-scale solar installations. The installations use photovoltaic panels or other similar means to collect solar energy to harness the power of solar energy. Solar farm installations are also called solar plants, solar power stations, and solar parks. The farms operate as power plants that convert solar energy into electricity.
Solar farms are different from rooftop solar systems and commercial solar systems in several ways:
- Solar farm developers enjoy the benefit of economies of scale, which means the developers can purchase solar panel equipment for less by placing bulk orders for solar panels.
- These farms are decentralized and consist mostly of ground-mounted panels installed across a huge area.
- These stations are located in an ideal location free from tree shading.
Types of Solar Farms
All solar farms can be classified into two different types based on their sizes:
- Community Solar
Utility-Scale Solar Farms
Whether a rooftop or an installation across the whole acre is utility-scale solar farms, all solar projects provide solar-powered electricity to the local community. When not connected to a grid or through a power line, a solar energy project is not considered a utility-scale solar farm.
In most cases, these farms refer to a vast land area where solar panels are installed beyond the horizon. These enormous installations contain several thousand solar panels that convert solar energy into electricity and distribute it through power lines. The electricity travels through these high-voltage lines to the grid. From these grids, the electricity lights up hundreds of thousands of homes.
Community Solar Farms
These are small-scale solar farms that generate up to 5 Megawatt of electricity to power homes and businesses within a local community. The power is shared among the people who participate in the farm installation. The residents who invest in such farms enjoy a reduction in their electricity bills, as a majority of electricity is produced through these community solar farms.
How does a Community Solar farm work?
- Solar panels are installed in a large area that receives maximum sunlight without any obstruction of trees, etc.
- The electricity produced by these farms is fed to a larger electricity grid in the region.
- The people who invest in the solar farm installation receive adjusted energy bills for the amount of energy produced by the plant in relation to the size of the house.
All this is made possible through virtual net metering. The energy providing company will credit your electricity bill for electricity that your solar farm generated in proportion to the energy load of your home.
The electricity generated from the community farms is used to power the houses in the close range. Hence, in case of grid failure, these homes are less likely to experience a power loss.
Here are a few things to consider before starting a solar panel farm:
How much solar farm installation costs?
A solar farm generally has about one megawatt of power that can provide energy for nearly 200 households in the area. The cost of installing solar panels that can generate this amount of power will be around one million dollars. However, most solar farms are smaller and would require lesser investment for installation. The cost generally depends on the location and land of installation. Each installation and setup are different, and the cost would highly depend on the scale at which the owner would like to build.
Is your Land Suitable for Solar Farm Installation?
To be suitable for solar panel farming, there are different requirements for the land. The most important of all is to have a sunny platform to provide the panels with enough sunlight to generate sufficient energy. A flat land allows the solar panels to absorb more sunlight, and it is preferable that the land should face South toward the sun.
Know the Land
If someone wants to start a solar farm, know the area. Check the power lines and electricals to prevent damage to the land’s capabilities. Know the access roads to prevent damage to other parts of the land like drainage due to excess water, flooding in fields, or causing damage to the property. Evaluate what is around the land to know what other constructions may cause damage to the solar installation or shadows blocking light to panels.
Check Your Community
Understand people living around in your area to understand who wants to opt for solar energy. Look into the community and neighbors to know people interested in switching to get an idea about who will lease and how long they will lease for.
With increasing trends towards renewable resources of energy, more people are switching towards these options of energy sources. Large-scale solar farming is getting more affordable as solar farm developers find more ways to reduce installation costs. With this, we can expect the development of more solar panel farms in the future.