Agricultural Solar Panels
The sun has always provided solar power for farms to grow crops and to dry them. Now, you can put the sun to work to provide the electricity that you need to heat and cool your barns, to run equipment, and to light and warm your home.
Since most farms have big barns with big roofs, farms are ideal locations for solar electric systems. And, farms without barns may still have some open ground where they can place a solar electric system, so if your farm fits either of these descriptions, you may be able to keep more money in your pocket by installing a solar electric system.
Here's a story from The Progressive Farmer of one farmer who has benefitted greatly from his solar electric system:
Everyone has their own idea of what expensive electricity is," says California rancher Dave Roberti. Yet after paying $150,000 a year to run his eight deep-well pumps, enough was enough. Roberti, who operates a 6,000-acre ranch west of Reno, with 450 pair of beef cattle and 2,500 acres primarily in alfalfa production, decided it was time to investigate alternative energy sources.
"I considered wind power," he says, "but everyone told me solar offered a better bang for the buck." Roberti talked to his local rural electric cooperative, Plumas-Sierra, about options for tying a solar-powered system into the grid. "Our local electric company was great in working with us," he remarks. "Most utility companies try to make it difficult for you to use alternative energy."
Roberti ultimately purchased a 500-kW photovoltaic (PV) system consisting of just under 2,500 solar panels installed on the ground on 3 acres of ranchland in 2011. The panels are on a single-axis pivot to track the sun from east to west during the day. The system produces more than 1.2 million kW of electricity for Roberti, which is just enough to run all of the ranch's deep well pumps.
"The system is designed to meet my average use," he explains. Should Roberti overproduce, he can get credit from the electric company for the excess power, but it's only at the rate of 6 cents per kW. "Since it costs 12½ cents per kW out of pocket for electricity, it doesn't make sense to overproduce," Roberti says, cautioning farmers to work closely with the solar company they use to make sure their systems are correctly sized.
In Roberti's case, his solar contractor analyzed five years of utility bills to determine the ranch's average annual use and sized the PV system to meet that usage, not exceed it.
Roberti says his solar panels produce enough power that he no longer has to pay for electricity for his pumps. "I've traded my electric bill for a mortgage payment," he notes. "In 10 years, when the system is paid for, I'll have free electricity."
How About A Solar Farm?
By becoming your own electric company, you can control your energy costs and improve your bottom line. Thousands of farmers are now using solar panels to provide power for their own operations, and some of those farmers are now building solar farms where they harvest the rays of the sun and use them to produce more power than they need. They then sell that power back to their local utilities and get credit for it.
If you have some unused acres, you might consider covering them with solar panels and selling the power to your local utility. Solar farms are a great way to guarantee against a crop failure, and solar farms range in size from a few acres to hundreds of acres.
Solar panels for farms are an idea whose time has arrived. To learn how a solar power system can improve life on your farm, contact Trifecta today for a Free Analysis of your solar potential.