What are Solar Farms? – Everything You Need to Know
With the rising costs of fossil fuels and an increasing awareness of the environmental consequences of carbon emissions, more people are turning to solar power and other forms of renewable energy.
With this rising demand for environmentally-friendly solar electricity, there is more incentive than ever for landowners and utility companies to start generating clean solar energy on a large scale. This is where solar farms come into play. In simple terms, solar farms use a vast array of solar panels to generate enormous amounts of solar energy, so it can be sold at a profit.
If you would like to know what solar farms are and how they operate, you have come to the right place. We are going to explain what exactly constitutes as a solar farm, what the different types of solar farms are, and why they are growing in popularity. From there, we will also explain how you can start producing your own solar power.
Sunshine is an incredibly valuable resource, by learning about solar farms, you will know how you can get involved in this rapidly growing industry!
What is a Solar Farm?
In most cases, the term solar farm refers to a large-scale array of solar panels. Just like a basic residential solar power system, solar farms use photovoltaic solar panels to absorb sunlight and convert it into usable electricity.
Where most residential and commercial solar power systems are only designed to off-set the electricity needs of a specific home or business, solar farms generate electricity for the express purpose of selling it to others. In most cases, the solar farms sell the clean electricity they generate to utility companies.
In some ways, solar farms almost act as environmentally-friendly power stations. They cover large pieces of land with a massive number of solar panels, which are all positioned closely together, so they can absorb as much sunlight as possible.
Just like traditional farms use land to grow crops and raise livestock, solar farms use the land at their disposal to harness the power of sunlight to generate emissions-free solar electricity.
What are the Differences Between Solar Farms and a Basic Solar Power Systems?
While they use the same type of technology to generate electricity, there are some major differences between a solar farm and a basic residential or commercial solar power system. Solar farms differ in the following ways:
- The Massive Scale of Solar Farms – To generate enough solar power to be profitable, solar farms take advantage of economies of scale. In other words, they have a cost advantage over small-scale solar power systems because they use enough solar panels that they can generate solar electricity in a high enough volume that it is a profitable use of the land. Solar farm owners will also purchase solar panels and other solar equipment in such large amounts that they are given preferred prices from solar equipment manufacturers.
- The Land is Optimized Specifically for the Collection of Solar Energy – Where residential and small-scale commercial solar power systems simply use solar panels that are installed on a roof or spare piece of property, solar farms use land that is ideal for the collection of sunlight. The land is free from shading issues and the solar panels are almost always positioned flat on the ground, or with a slight angle, so that they receive the maximum amount of sunlight possible.
- Solar Farms Generate Solar Electricity for Profit – While some grid-tied residential solar power systems can feed solar electricity into the grid for utility discounts and cash-back rebates, they are rarely installed for profit. In most cases, small-scale solar power systems are installed to reduce utility bills and off-set the owner’s electricity needs. On the other hand, solar farms are designed for profitability. In most cases, the massive amounts of solar electricity they are able to generate is fed directly into the electric grid, so the owner of the solar farm can profit.
The Two Main Types of Solar Farms
While all solar farms share certain defining characteristics, there are two main types of solar farms – utility solar farms and community solar farms.
Utility-Scale Solar Farms:
The main thing that sets utility-scale solar farms apart from community solar farms is their massive size. Since the main goal is supplying enough electricity to make them a legitimate alternative to fossil fuel-sourced electricity, they need to be extremely large. They use huge plots of land and, in many cases, utility solar farms will consist of thousands of individual solar panels that absorb enough sunlight to generate electricity on a scale that is of a significant value to a utility company.
Community Solar Farms:
As the name suggests, community solar farms are smaller in scale and are usually designed to supply electricity to a particular community. Rather than feed electricity into a grid for an entire city or county, community solar farms supply electricity to a particular set of community residents.
In many cases, the community will pool its money, so they can reduce their monthly electricity bills. These community-funded investments are usually installed in an open area of the neighborhood that receives a significant amount of sunlight each day. People that invested in the project can choose to directly use the solar electricity, or receive a share of the profits when that electricity is fed into the grid.
Given the fact that they require open land and usually work best with tight-knit communities, community solar farms are far more common in rural areas than they are in urban and suburban locations.
How Can You Benefit from Solar Farms?
While it is only those that own or invest in solar farms that directly profit from their operation, solar farms actually benefit everyone in the area. This is because solar energy is completely renewable and free from the emissions that are generated by fossil fuel-sourced electricity.
Those that source their electricity from solar farms will enjoy cleaner air and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are not contributing to serious carbon emissions with your electricity usage.
If you own a large plot of land that receives significant sunlight and it is not being used for other purposes, you can even look into setting up your own solar farm, or contracting out your land so it can be used by solar farm investors.
What if You Do Not Live Near a Solar Farm and You Have a Small Property?
If you do not live in the area of an active solar farm and you do not have the appropriate amount of land to start your own, you can take advantage of solar power by installing a residential solar power system.
Solar power systems are surprisingly straightforward, especially when you start by purchasing a complete solar panel kit. For those looking for a portable solar power system that they can take with them for power on the go, our complete collection of RV, Van, and Boat DIY Solar Panel Kits is a great place to start.
However, those looking for a more permanent solar power system that they can use to meet some of the electricity needs of their home or business should take a look at our Renogy Solar Kit Collection. Not only do these kits come with everything you need to install your own solar power system, they are available at affordable prices and contain high-quality components that will generate solar electricity reliably and efficiently.
Solar generators are another useful product for those that are interested in solar power, but lack the land necessary to install a large-scale solar farm.
Solar generators can be used to supply clean electricity to your home, RV, boat, or any electronic devices you need to charge on the go. They contain built-in battery banks and often have a variety of charging ports, so they are compatible with numerous electronics.
We carry two of the most popular solar generators on the market today – the highly portable MaxOak EB150 Bluetti 1,500wh Solar Generator and the high-capacity EcoFlow Delta 1,800W Solar Generator. Both units are designed to give users the option to either take solar power with them, or have access to a reliable emergency power source at home.
It is also worth taking a look at our detailed review of the Jackery Portable Power Station, especially if you value portability.
Final Words on Solar Farms
Solar farms are large-scale operations that are specifically used to generate massive volumes of solar electricity. While community-based solar farms are used in certain situations to reduce electricity costs and carbon emissions for a specific community, most solar farms sell electricity directly to utility companies for profit.
On the other hand, some property owners will lease parts of their land out to solar farms, which can be a profitable use of otherwise unused land. However, to do so, the land must receive enough sunlight to be viable.
For those that are not fortunate enough to own plots of land that are large enough to be practical for use as a solar farm, installing a small-scale solar power system can be an effective way to off-set some of the costs of monthly electricity bills.
Whether you would like to know more information about solar farms, or you are just interested in purchasing a solar panel kit, you can always reach out to us with any questions or concerns you may have!