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- Solar farming collects energy from sunlight through solar panels and puts it back on the grid.
- Solar farms have many benefits, including being a reliable, clean energy source that doesn't pollute or deplete resources.
- The profit of a solar farm depends on location, number of panels, and sunshine per season, with an average yield per acre ranging from $21,250 to $42,500 annually.
- Starting a solar farm can be expensive, ranging from $890,000 to $1,010,000 for the average 1-megawatt farm.
- Leasing land to a solar farm is another way to profit without having to build a farm, with a one-acre plot of land netting between $250 to $3,000 a month in rent.
If you haven't heard of solar farming, it’s time to take the plunge and get in the know.
Solar farming is something entirely different than food production. The product is energy collected from sunlight, usually through solar panels. Interest in solar farming is heating up as more people discover the benefits.
However, one of the most common questions about solar farms is, “How much money can I make with a solar farm?”
Let's take that plunge.
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What Is A Solar Farm?
We’ve all seen solar panels, shiny rectangles on roofs of houses or the ground at business complexes. These are residential or business units usually designed to power only the building on which they are installed.
Solar farms utilize the same type of photovoltaic panels but on a much larger scale. Some farms can produce enough clean energy to power a town or city.
Instead of the energy collected being used on-site, it is put back on the grid for others to use. The owner, in turn, receives a check from the power company or those using the power.
There are many benefits of solar farming, including the following:
- Solar farms cost less to build and run than fossil fuel mining operations
- While producing energy, they don't pollute or deplete air, water, or land health
- Solar farms, particularly those in places with plenty of sunshine, are a reliable energy source
- The sun is a fuel resource that can't be shut off
Like a regular farm, a solar farm comes in all shapes and sizes. To qualify as a solar farm, no set number of panels or acres is needed.
However, for most utility-scale projects, or those large enough to power more than an individual building, an output of one megawatt is standard.
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How Much Can I Profit Per Acre?
According to 2022 statistics, the average solar farm's annual profit per acre is between $21,250 to $42,500.
The specific profit, of course, depends highly on the location of the land, the number of solar panels, and the amount of sunshine per season.
States, including California and Nevada, will have more sunlight daily than most other 50 states and produce more energy.
Other minor conditions that may interfere with the maximum production of energy include:
- Dust and dirt on the panels
- Inclement Weather
- Failure to properly maintain the array of panels
Remembering the initial costs of starting a solar farm is also important. While the profit is attractive, many investors are deterred by high startup costs.
Purchasing and clearing the land alone can be pretty expensive. From there, the cost of the panels themselves and the installation add a significant expense.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the average price for a solar farm last year ranged from $0.89 to $1.01 per watt.
Said another way, the total cost for the average 1-megawatt solar farm ranges from $890,000 to $1,010,000.
You can also profit from a solar farm without ever having to build a farm!
Instead, you can lease the land to a solar farm. In this way, a one-acre plot of land could net between $250 to $3,000 a month in rent. However, farmers will want more than one acre for most solar projects.
There are many solid reasons to build, own, operate, or lease a solar farm. The first is that demand for alternative energy sources other than fossil fuels is rising and will continue to do so shortly.
People recognize that green energy derived from the sun doesn’t damage the earth compared to mining processes that eventually deplete supplies.
Also, advancing technology will only make solar farming more efficient and less costly to install. This, in turn, will widen the profit margins.
Although the equipment may be expensive to buy and install, there are government grants and loans today – and more on the way – to help offset these costs and put you on a profitable path.
Today’s solar farms are anticipated to last up to 50 years.