Solar energy is one of the most popular methods to harvest sunlight in order to create electricity, with a number of advantages.

It has quickly become one of the most popular new business opportunities for both businesses and individuals.

Solar farms are made up of rows of ground-mounted solar panels that are fastened to sturdy frames and placed in the earth.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, also known as utility-scale or grid-scale solar PV plants, are large-scale applications of solar photovoltaics.

These futuristic-looking facilities can be found in agricultural fields, on top of parking garages, and even atop warehouses.

What is a Solar Farm?

Solar farms are also known as solar parks and solar power stations. They are large-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems which generate solar energy/electricity from sunlight. Solar farms can be either onshore or offshore.

How do Solar Farms Work?

Solar farms work by using photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electrical energy.

These cells are made up of two layers of silicon placed next to each other. When the sun hits these cells, electrons are knocked loose from the silicon atoms and flow between the two layers creating an electric current.

This current is then converted into usable alternating current (AC) electricity by an inverter.

Solar battery storage

The energy produced by those solar panels is then stored in solar batteries.

Solar batteries are big, deep-cycle batteries that store the DC electricity produced by your solar PV system so it can be used when the sun isn’t shining. 

The electricity stored in a solar battery can be used at night or during a power outage. It can also provide backup power for your home or business in case of an emergency.

Related: Solar Battery Storage | What Are They? | How They Work?

How Solar Farms Benefit the Environment?

Solar farms help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and protect our environment in several ways:

  • Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Solar farms generate renewable energy which does not produce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one megawatt hour (MWh) of solar PV electricity avoids the emission of approximately 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of taking one car off the road for an entire year!
  • Reducing Water Consumption: Solar farms do not require water to generate electricity unlike other forms of energy generation such as coal or natural gas. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar PV systems use 50-70% less water than conventional fossil fuel power plants.
  • Supporting Wildlife: Solar farms can actually be beneficial for local wildlife as they provide a new habitat for animals and plants. They also offer shade and shelter from the sun and wind which can be beneficial for livestock.

What are the Requirements for Solar Farms?

In order to construct a solar farm, there are a few key requirements that need to be met:

  • A Suitable Location
  • Permission from Local Authorities
  • Access to Finance
  • A Power Purchase Agreement

A Suitable Location

One of the most important factors in determining the feasibility of a solar farm is the location. The site must have good sun exposure and should ideally be close to existing infrastructure such as roads and power lines. In addition, the site should have minimal shading from trees or other objects.

Permission from Local Authorities

Before any construction can begin, solar developers must obtain permission from the local planning authority. This process can take several months and sometimes years depending on the size and scale of the project.

Access to Finance

Solar farms are expensive to build and can cost anywhere from $1 million to $100 million. Developers will need to secure financing from banks, investors, or other sources of funding.

A Power Purchase Agreement

A solar farm will need a power purchase agreement (PPA) in order to sell the electricity it generates to utilities or other customers. PPAs are long-term contracts (usually 15-25 years) that guarantee payment for the electricity produced by the solar farm.

Solar Farm Costs

Solar farm income per acre

The annual income derived from a solar farm per acre is roughly $14,000 to $16,000 for a 435kW installation. Irradiance is one of the major variables affecting revenue.

Solar farm profit per acre

If your farm is in the ideal location, you might earn $7,828.45 per acre each year on average. Your farm is likely to generate approximately $156,569 in profits due to the fact that most utility solar farms have a capacity of 5 MW (about 20 acres).

How Close Does A Solar Farm Need To Be To A Substation?

The location of a solar farm is another important consideration. YSG Solar’s standard guideline is that the site should be within 1,000 feet of three-phase power and 2 miles of a substation.

The further the site is from existing infrastructure, the more costly and difficult it will be to build. In some cases, it may not be possible to connect to the grid at all.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Solar Farm?

The cost of constructing ground-mounted solar arrays ranges from .82 to 1.36 per watt on average. This indicates that the infrastructure for solar plants with a capacity of 1 MW costs from $820,000 to $1.36 million.

Construction costs of solar projects are included in this estimate, as well as other expenditures:

Approximately, $30,000 to connect a solar farm to the electricity grid via high-voltage power lines

Solar company insurance – $23,000.

What about tiny solar plants, such as rooftop solar gardens? Rooftop installations are more expensive to install, costing around $2.84 per watt. The energy generated will likely be less than 20 kW.

Though the power produced is lower, rooftop systems are popular among solar developers because they do not have the space required for large-scale solar.

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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