by Laura Mueller
We talk a lot about different types of agriculture, but when it comes to what you should farm on your land, why not consider energy instead of crops?
Solar farming is one of the newer land trends on the horizon. And depending on where you live and the needs of your community, it might be worth looking into as a forward-thinking investment.
Here’s what to know about solar farms, including what they are, how much land you need to build one, and why solar energy might just be the new “cash crop” you’ve been looking for.
What is a Solar Farm?
A solar farm is a large-scale plot of land dedicated solely to collecting energy from the sun.
Also known as solar parks, solar power stations, or solar plants, these big operations serve to take some of the energy load off of traditional power plants, using solar energy instead of fossil fuels to provide sustainable power to the electrical grid.
In appearance, a solar farm looks pretty much how you would expect it to: it’s a large, outdoor area covered in grounded solar panels. By devoting such an expansive space to the collection of solar energy, a solar farm serves to supply a much-needed resource much in the same way that any other type of farm does, with the added benefit that there’s not much day-to-day maintenance required after the initial installation of your panels.
As for who benefits from all this solar power, that depends on your business model. Today’s savvy solar farmers are using their land in a variety of ways, including:
• Powering other land operations, including energy needed for traditional farming endeavors
• Providing supplemental power to communities and/or businesses
• Helping existing utility companies maximize their production capacities
Of course, it’s not as easy as simply setting up some panels and calling it a day. There are specific rules and regulations that need to be followed in starting a solar farm, though the global push toward alternate energy sources means that you might have an easier time than you assume getting a solar farm up and running.
How Much Land Do You Need for a Solar Farm?
As for your land investment itself, you’ll need at least five to eight acres for a productive solar farm that can provide ample community power, and at least 30 to 60 acres for a solar farm with more widespread commercial potential.
How much land you’ll have available to you for this purpose is based on where you live. Some states, such as New York, cap consumer-owned solar farms at just five acres, though many other states are seeing the potential and are working to allow for the accommodation of larger outdoor solar enterprises.
Keep in mind that not all land is suitable for solar farming. You’ll need plenty of unfettered access to sunlight, as well as ample space for additional solar equipment—including inverters. You’ll also need walkable space between your rows of solar panels in case of any repair or maintenance needs.
Is solar farming right for you? If it’s something that you’re considering, you can contact the experts at the Land Broker Co-op. According to David Light, CDO, Land Broker Co-op, “Solar presents many opportunities for land brokers as well. Over $500 million in commissions will be generated from property rights transactions over the next 10 years, the union between RealX and the Land Broker Co-op is the key to this opportunity.”
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