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Called solar farming or solar parks, the concept is fairly simple.
It begins with placing a large cluster of photovoltaic solar panels on a cleared plot of land. There is not a specific number of panels required for a site to be called a solar farm, or amount of acres for the panels.
In recent years, this has become a lucrative business opportunity for some. By farming sun on you land and sending energy back to the power company, you can effectively run your meter in reverse and get a check each month.
So, what might you expect to shell out to get up and running with this business?
Solar Farm Cost
The total cost associated with a solar farming operation comes down to these factors:
- Land – Is the land owned, or will it need to be purchased? Is the land cleared, or in need of clearing?
- Power – Are power lines run to the property? High voltage lines that can receive solar generated power?
- Solar Array – How much does the equipment cost?
- Permits – Total cost of the permits and other necessary documentation.
- Labor – What will be spent on the electricians and workers setting everything up?
1 Megawatt Solar Farm
The first requirement is land. In order to have enough space for the panels and room for them to be organized and maintained, a 1 Mega-watt solar farm requires around 7 acres.
The ideal spot is relatively flat land, or a gentle slope facing south. However, most large plots of cleared land will serve the purpose.
The average cost for one acre of land is $3,160. This amount of course varies wildly based on the location of the land and its condition.
So, your average investment in 7 acres of land is now $22,120. Obviously, if you already own the land, strike out this cost.
Here’s where it gets bit pricey to start out. Panel costs are typically between $26,750 and $31,000 per acre. There will also be some other costs associated, such as installing the equipment, batteries needed, transformers and wiring.
Without including permit costs, land clearing and labor, you should expect a 1 acre solar farm operation to cost you around $35,000. If you own the land, that would be closer to $30,000.
For a 7 acre operation, enough for a 1 mega-watt farm, that cost would be around $210,000 to $250,000 depending on whether or not you owned the land. Keep in mind, this is the cost for the panels and land only. It gets far more expensive from here, including costs such as miles and miles of copper and aluminum wire.
SEIA Cost Figure
The Solar Energy Industries Association publishes average costs for solar builds. This is priced out on a per-watt basis.
In Q4 of 2021, the average cost for a solar farm was a range of $0.89 to $1.01 per watt. Since there are 1,000,000 watts in a megawatt, the cost for the average 1 megawatt solar farm ranges from $890,000 to $1,010,000.
Long story short, be prepared to shell out one million dollars to get a decent solar farm operation going today.