Solar Farm Income Per Acre (and An Intro To Solar Farming)

Solar Farm Income Per Acre

More and more people are shifting their habits to reduce their carbon footprints. They’re buying electric vehicles and governments are scrambling to be more green. That’s good news for solar farms, which stand to not only make the world a better place but also profit from these changes.

But how much money does a solar farm make? On average, you could expect your solar farm’s income per acre to be around $5,000 to $6,000. Though, it’s is, of course, just a bit more complicated than that. (Keep reading for more!)

The Logistics of “Solar Farming”

A commercial solar farm mostly sells its power back to the electric grid (power companies) through net metering. These efforts produce greener electricity which is then “re-sold” to consumers who are already connected to the grid. This brings quite a few advantages to both consumers and farmers.

For starters, it’s not necessary for every home to install solar panels themselves. Which, for many people, is difficult or impossible to do. This could be because they don’t have enough space to do so, don’t have the funds to install the system, or they simply have poor access to sun where they live.

In contrast, a solar farm can set up shop in an ideal area where panels are obscured, giving them more efficient means to gather energy. They can also, of course, purchase equipment wholesale in bulk, which lowers their cost per watt to collect energy when compared to consumers doing it themselves.

Building a solar farm costs approximately $.82 to $1.36 per watt. According to SEIA, that’s approximately 50% lower in cost when compared to the average consumer rooftop system. This competitive pricing is part of what makes solar farms so attractive to power companies as well.

A farm like this is also pretty low maintenance. Once everything has been installed and servicing of the equipment only really happens a couple of times per year. The panels themselves also last a long time (25-30 years minimum), which means there is little to be replaced.

How Much Land Does A Solar Farm Need.

If wondering how feasible it is to build your own solar farm, then you should know that you’ll need at least 6-8 acres of land in order to build a 1 MW solar farm. This is pretty do-able in most areas, thankfully, save for the priciest of locations where land is at a premium.

Estimated income for a mini solar farm of this size is probably between $30,000 and $40,000 per year. However, be aware that the licensing requirements for starting this kind of operation can be lengthy and you’ll need to be patient. Operations like this are strictly regulated and inspected to make sure they do not cause environmental harm.

How Much Does It Costs To Start A Solar Farm

Unfortunately, starting even a small solar farm that produces 1 MW of power has a hefty degree of start up costs. You’ll be looking at $800,000 to $1,000,000 just to get off the ground.

While it is possible to create a smaller operation on just an acre, these are “community farms” and the income works differently. On these small farms you will be supply power directly to people in your community rather than to the electric company which wants to work with a large scale operation.

Expect an 8 year time frame before your solar farm pays back its initial investment to you and around a 15% ROI. Unfortunately, farming has many variables which impact income, even solar farms. More or less sunny days will change these numbers and it’s not really something you can prepare for.

In this case, the best way to prepare is to have additional cash stashed away to weather the… well, bad weather.

In closing, a solar farm can be a great investment, but it’s not as simple as just throwing some panels on your vacant land. There is a lot of planning to do in order to be successful.

By Bob Womack

Bob learned about farming from his grand dad. So, the decision to leave the city and start homesteading was not a difficult transition. He now lives with his wife and two kids on their 30 acre property in Ohio.