Solar energy is fast becoming the best source ofrenewable energy. Solar power comes with little or no harmful emissions to our health or environment. This makes it one of the best power generation sources available.
Recently, the solar industry has been growing far more rapidly than other energy-generating sources. This is because it is friendly to the environment and easy to renew. The cost of installing solar panels is constantly decreasing as more people now run solar farms. Solar farms are becoming more popular as people join the solar business trend.
A solar farm business can be small-scale or large-scale, depending on the acres of land available for use and the number of solar panels. Many individuals collaborate with solar developers to construct solar farms on their property and share a percentage of the profit generated with them.
So, let’s figure out how to start a solar farm!
What is a Solar Farm?
A solar farm is a power generating station with multiple solar panels that supply energy to a particular location. When starting a solar farm, you need to be connected to the primary power grid in the area, just like when you’re getting solar panels installed in your home or office building.
Individuals using solar power tend to save more money on electricity bills. It’s even better for solar farms. Owners of solar farms or the land on which the farm is constructed share a certain amount of the profit from the solar farm. This is a lucrative business, especially in these times of solar power.
Types of Solar Farms
Solar farm developers divide solar farms into two main types. The two types are utility-scale solar farms and community-scale solar farms. The technology behind the two types is the same. Most solar projects in the U.S. transfer energy into photovoltaic power structures using solar panels. The main difference between the two types of solar farms is the scale.
Utility Scale Solar Farms
A utility-scale solar farm is smaller than a community-scale farm. However, a utility-scale solar farm can still produce high energy. At least one megawatt of power can be generated from a utility-scale solar farm, and the limit is two thousand megawatts.
Over ten thousand utility-scale farms are present in the U.S. Together, these farms generate a large amount of solar power for the masses. One megawatt of energy can power 200 households.
Community-Scale Solar Farms
As the name implies, a community-scale solar farm can provide solar power to large communities. A community-scale solar farm can produce from 100 kilowatts to 5 megawatts of electricity. This is much larger compared to utility-scale solar farms.
Since the energy generated is more significant, the number of solar panels needed to construct a community-scale farm is more than that of a utility-scale. The energy generated from community solar farms is usually sold to power plants. The homes and businesses involved in the solar farm will also be granted lower power bills.
How to Start a Solar Farm
There are many steps to consider when starting asolar farm. Setting up a solar farm is more complicated than having a home or office solar installation. Individuals require more solar equipment and a large flat area of land before a solar farm can be sited. Most laws allow solar farms to be constructed on agricultural or industrial lands.
Here are some of the steps to take when starting a solar farm.
Identify Your Market
It’s essential to first establish your target market. If you want to start a solar farm business, it is vital to have a specific area that will benefit from the farm.
Individuals can decide to use the power generated to feed rural communities, urban centers, or industrial regions, depending on the scale of the solar farm they have in mind. When choosing a location to supply, you can research the electric utility company you will be working with to find out about offers and competitors.
Locate Your Competition
Competition is present in every business sector. The solar farm business is no exception. With solar energy becoming increasingly popular, many individuals and entrepreneurs are now looking into solar farms as a profit source.
Electric companies usually disclose the percentage of energy they derive from outside sources. Hence, it is relatively easy to find the competition around you. Once you’ve identified your competition, plan suitable countermeasures to ensure a steady income.
Create a Business Plan
It is vital to have a proper business plan before commencing the construction of a solar farm. A strategically planned business has a higher chance of success than a business with no plan.
Consider the structure and management of the solar farm and the targeted customers. When planning the solar farm, individuals should consider the whole construction process, from its commencement to the final operation and maintenance.
Form a Legal Entity and Brand
When starting a business, it must be registered as a legal entity. There are several options for establishing a legal business. You can register the solar farm business as a corporation, limited liability company, or partnership with a solar company.
After the solar farm has been registered as a legal company, branding is required. Every business requires good branding. Branding helps to increase the reputation of businesses. The better the branding of the solar farm, the more people will be attracted to the farm.
Solar farms require a large area of land. Hence, when starting a solar farm, ample space is necessary. Most solar farms have their solar panels on the ground, which means the ground must be relatively flat.
Be sure to check the zoning regulations in your state to determine the type of land on which solar farms can be built. Most states accept agricultural and industrial lands for solar farm construction.
Also, the selected location must be somewhere with direct exposure to sunlight. This is very important. In urban areas, solar farms can also be installed on roofs.
Apply for Permits
To start a solar farm, you need permits and licenses before you can legally operate. Most businesses, including solar energy farms, require permits from the government and licenses from health and safety agencies before they can commence operations.
Before your solar panel farm can begin operations, it must be connected to the power grid. However, you should have the necessary permits before your utility company connects you. You also need permits for labor and the land you will use for the solar farm. It is advisable to research the various regulations on permits in your area.
Hire a Solar Company
After the necessary permits have been granted, you can commence the installation process. At this point, you can hire a solar company to complete the installation of the solar panels. The solar company will send technicians to the site for the installations.
You can buy the solar equipment you will need for the farm or purchase it through the solar company. You can also provide free land on lease to solar developers. The developers will construct the solar farm, and a percentage of the proceeds can be discussed between the two parties.
When starting a new business, it is crucial to plan how the operations and facilities of the business will be maintained. A solar farm contains a lot of delicate equipment that will be exposed to various conditions and it’s essential to plan how that equipment will be maintained.
Solar panels must be able to withstand weather conditions such as hail, snow, and rain. The panels have to be maintained frequently to ensure their continued efficiency. Regular maintenance sessions should be scheduled to regulate and preserve the equipment’s efficiency.
To learn how to maintain solar equipment, you can ask questions to the installation technicians or the solar equipment manufacturers. That way, you get a direct explanation of the steps to take for maintenance.
When starting a solar farm, getting insurance for the business is advisable in case of mishaps. There is risk involved in running a solar farm. Purchasing insurance helps you to quell that risk to a certain extent.
Starting a solar farm is a relatively simple endeavor. However, there are many steps one needs to take before starting a solar farm. Solar farms require large acres of land with little or no obstructions to the sun. You must also have the necessary permits to connect to the power grid.
Individuals can collaborate with developers to establish solar farms or run them themselves. Both parties will decide how to split the profit if it is a collaboration. After installing solar panels on the selected site, it is crucial to plan for maintenance and purchase insurance to help protect your initial investment.
Now that you know how to start a solar farm, get out there and start farming today!