What is a solar farm?
Solar farms are large-scale, ground-mounted solar installations. They use photovoltaic (PV) panels to collect solar energy and harness the sun’s power for use in a neighborhood, business, or wherever power is needed.
Solar farms are also known as ‘solar parks,’ ‘solar plants’ and ‘solar power stations.’ They operate as power plants, just like the fossil-fueled power plants that have generated electricity for consumers for the last century, except they use the sun instead!
- Solar farms take advantage of economies of scale, meaning, by placing large orders for solar panels and other equipment, project developers can purchase the equipment for less. Meaning, more saving for you and your business.
- Solar power stations can also be located in a more ideal location that’s free from issues like shading from trees. It also allows you to enjoy solar if you aren’t fond of the way rooftop panels would look on your building.
- In most cases, solar farms provide power to the electric grid and are part of the utility’s energy mix.
There are also different types of large solar projects, like community solar farms and utility-scale solar farms.
Some things to consider before committing to your businesses/neighborhoods new solar farm:
1. How much land do you need?
With all the equipment and space between panel rows, a 1 MW solar farm typically needs 6–8 acres, according to GTM Research.
Be aware that with large solar projects, you don’t just need space for the solar arrays. Land is also required to house allied equipment like inverters, and space needs to be left between rows of solar panels for repair and maintenance access. The more space you want to power, the more panels you might need. Keep this in mind when deciding if a solar farm is right for you.
2. How long does it take to build a solar farm?
The time spent building the solar farm depends solely on how large of a system the team needs to install and how many workers we have available. An average estimate of 3 months is standard.
Siting and permitting, however, is a lot more complicated. It can take 3–5 years to get all the necessary approvals and contracts completed for a solar farm.
After a solar farm is complete and online, it needs little maintenance, and can be serviced about 3–4 times a year. Don’t worry though, our service team is here to help any time. Don’t let this discourage you, the savings will be worth the wait.
How much do solar farm leases pay?Landowners who rent out their land for a solar farm can earn between $250 and $3,000 per acre a year, according to top solar land lease websites. Because solar farms take up so much space, and most people don’t have that amount of land already, this is an option for those who don’t want to build their own solar farm, and would rather lend out their property to an external solar developer.
You might have noticed that the price range for this land varies more than normal. This is based on a few different factors.
- Land prices in your area
- Electricity transmission infrastructure near your land
- Substitute uses of your land (i.e. possible agricultural farm income)
- Demand for renewable energy in your state
- State and municipal incentives to solar farm operators
In short, the amount you can earn by leasing out your land for a solar farm really depends on market conditions in your area. So, make sure to check those out before making your decision.
Agreements are generally long-term, between 15 and 20 years, with options to extend for as long as 50 years. They also include annual escalators 1.5 to 2.5% to account for inflation. Some developers even offer to pay for the leases as a large upfront payment.
What are the largest solar farms?
As of July 2020, the largest solar farm in the world is Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan desert region of India.
The solar farm covers a mammoth 10,000 acres. It has an energy generating capacity of 2,245 MW, or 2.2 gigawatts. It is nearly four times the capacity of America’s current biggest solar farm, Solar Star.