In the past decades, the rising demand for clean energy has cause renewable energy industries to snowball. In this regard, solar energy has to be the most popular one. While it’s inexpensive to set up, it’s also a very accessible way of producing large amounts of free electricity. Over time, many people have turned this into a profitable business.
Now, there are more solar power plants than ever. Solar energy has proved itself to be a sustainable alternative to conventional ways of energy production. But before you start setting up your solar plant, you must become aware of the local rules and requirements. If you’re thinking about setting up your own solar farm land, here are some tips of advice:
What is a solar farm land?
As the name suggests, solar farm land is an area with an extensive photovoltaic system. Typically, it consists of large, decentralized solar panel installation. Its primary goal is to supply the national electricity grid with commercial solar power. However, there are roof-mounted solar plants, too. Unlike decentralized solar plants, they don’t provide commercial solar power to local or individual users.
In most cases, solar farm lands are properties of companies. They use these farms as a means of electrical supply for other properties of those corporations. In some sense, these large-scale farms target smaller businesses and homes. Therefore, it’s now becoming popular for such projects to turn into community solar farms.
What is a community solar farm?
As mentioned previously, solar energy has become more affordable and accessible than ever. In this regard, many people have found ways to shift to solar power without installing solar arrays. Thanks to the innovative roofless solar or solar gardens, the generated power can supply multiple households or families.
In most cases, these community farms use ground mounting on an extensive area. It usually spans over several acres and may slightly resemble solar utility farms. Perhaps, the most significant difference is that homeowners either buy a share of the solar farm or lease the energy. In turn, they pay much less by using clean and renewable energy.
Is my Land Suitable for a Solar Farm?
Before you start planning, you should first make sure your land is eligible for setting up a solar farm. Usually, a solar developer would look for clear, flat land that doesn’t have minimal wetlands. Let’s not forget that the land must be close to three-phase power and a substation.
Most of all, you must make sure that your local land use and zoning laws allow for such a project. But even if your land doesn’t meet all the zoning requirements, there’s still a way to set everything up. Simply contact a professional solar developer to help you find an alternative solution.
Either way, here are some of the basic solar farm land requirements:
What are the solar farm land requirements?
Whether you’re leasing land or you already own it, there are always some requirements to meet. Therefore, your solar developer will first look at some factors to determine whether your parcel of land is suitable. Most of the time, your solar farm land will have to meet the majority of the following requirements:
Amount of Usable Land
First, you must assess the amount of usable land you can work with. Typically, solar developers would want you to have at least ten acres of clear, flat ground. Still, there are some cases where you can go as low as five acres. That’s why it’s crucial to consult with a professional. What’s more, you must bear in mind that 1 kW of solar PV systems may need at least 100 sq. ft. of land. Of course, everything depends on the specifics of your land and project.
Distance to Power Lines and Substation
Another critical factor to consider is the distance to the power lines and substation. As already noted, a solar farm must be close to these connections. Otherwise, we risk making the project more costly than predicted. Therefore, you must ensure your land is within 1,000 ft. of three-phase power lines for a DG-Scale solar farm. If you’re looking to set up a Utility-Scale farm, it must be within 1 mile of transmission lines.
Also, let’s not forget about substations. Usually, you’d want your solar farm land to be in the range of 2 miles to a substation. As you can imagine, longer distances may mean a greater risk for your project. In such cases, your solar developer may advise you to stop your plans.
A stumbling block to your solar farm land can be the existence of wetlands. Therefore, you must avoid leasing any land which has significant wetlands. Of course, you can always work around such limitations. However, most of the time, this is not the case.
The presence of large areas of wetlands can completely halt the development of your solar farm. That’s why you should first make sure you don’t have such problems ahead of time. In any case, you should consult with a solar developer to weigh in the options dealing with any existent wetland issues.
Clear Path to Power Lines
An essential part of every solar farm setup is providing a clear path to the abovementioned power lines. Believe it or not, you’ll need to make sure you have an uninterrupted connection from the site.
If there are other parcels in the way, you may have issues with your power lines’ proximity. As you already know, ensuring a closer path to three-phase power lines or transmission lines is crucial. That’s why an obstacle-freeway will provide a more straightforward interconnection process.
Eco-Friendly Solar Farming
Last but not least, let’s not forget about the ecological side of your project. Setting up a solar farm is indeed a great way to go “green”. However, you must do so without harming the existing environment. In other words, the presence of your solar farm land shouldn’t be intrusive for the local nature. Therefore, you should make sure there are no endangered species or any form of wildlife on your site.
How Much do Solar Farms Cost?
Typically, both solar developers and landowners seek decent profits that they can generate from the produced electricity. That way, they’ll ensure a steady amount of revenue in the long term. In most cases, professional solar developers will provide a well-prepared policy that outlines all market rates. In turn, they can help determine the viability of your revenue streams.
Of course, multiple factors can influence the total cost of a solar farm land setup. These factors may or may not include things like location, sunlight hours, and more. In most cases, you’d want to go for a Utility-Scale level with at least 1 MW in size. Such capacity can easily supply as many as 200 households. Such an installation may cost anywhere around $1 per watt.
Whatever your views and goals, setting up a solar farm requires you to carefully follow the land laws and legislation. In this regard, you must ensure you’re working with the right professionals. Also, you should educate yourself further on solar project investment. After all, many factors can halt or facilitate your work. That’s why your number-one priority is to make sure your solar farm land meets all requirements.