All It Takes Is a Parcel of Sunshine to Germinate Power & Fertilize Growing Communities.
Solar Farming, on large and small parcels of land alike, prove to be shrewd investments that have evolved into bright financial futures for individual and group investors. While forging a cleaner future for the environment, a positive side effect has occurred~ A novel way to cover property taxes, and other rising farming expenses without regular, active labor. Land that no longer yields the planned fruit, whether due to changing soil conditions, or fluctuating economics has plagued farmers for centuries. The potential of solar farming adds another dimension to the prospect of farming: An opportunity that, through just one vacant lot, an entire neighborhood can be powered, natural resources preserved and healthy growing communities propelled.
Solar panel technology has reached new production potential as they move off of roofs and onto motorized towers. The panels, running on solar farms, are efficient beyond what a neighborhood of roofs can provide. The gift of space provides the opportunity to position solar panels on motorized towers that continually move and track the sun.
Solar Farming Buffett-BIG
Topaz Solar Farm, located 5 hours South of San Francisco, is capable of powering 160,000 average American homes. Construction of the 550 megawatt photovoltaic power station began in 2011 and completed in 2014. As of June, 2014 it was the world's largest solar farm. California utilities are required to obtain 33% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, and completion of a project at this magnitude, certainly propels the state closer to that mandate. According to World Solar, the project created 400 jobs, includes nine million thin-film cadmium telluride PV panels, designed and manufactured by First Solar, Topaz Solar Farm shows the vast potential of the solar-power industry in growing communities. Topaz is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Never fear, smaller-fry, because where there is no Warren Buffett, there is crowdfunding.
Related: Crowdfunding the Solar Revolution
Small Size - No Less Benefit
Traditional farming is an incredible source of sustainability that should not be undervalued. The demand farming-fresh food has risen parallel to the knowledge of the direct effect our diets have on health. However, when land no longer provides the income necessary to support our farmers, innovative adaptation can be the key to preserving what may otherwise be lost. As farmers pay property taxes, even on smaller parcels, that no longer yield the financial benefits of yesterday, they can regain income needed to maintain their land by installing small solar farms. Tax credits, combined with other incentives offered by government encourage broader farming involvement, while the utility companies write the pay check. Farmers are generally paid a defined price per kilowatt hour, calculated the same way that energy consumers are billed for their usage. The average sunlit, summer day, solar panels propelled in a small field has the potential to power an entire neighborhood.
Aside from the Good Environmental Karma
Where are the profits?
Using PG&E as an example, the utility company is likely to sign a 10 to 20 year contract with solar farm operators. These farmers are generally paid 10-12 cents per kWh of power, creating a $120,000 yearly profit from a 5 acre parcel. Keep multiplying the property size, and the potential becomes clear. A solar farm on 24 acres, leased, producing 3MW of solar originated power could expect to receive approx $19 million after the pay off. According to Commercial Solar Design, the electricity generated in 25 years would be around $30 million. It certainly makes sense why, as the entire world moves away from abusing fossil fuels, and quickly places increasing importance on clean renewable forms of energy, the burgeoning solar farming industry is rippling into monetary & environmental preservation profits untold.
An excellent source of income can be produced from solar farmed, otherwise vacant, land. The energy producing capacity is much greater than stationary roof-top panels. So, they create a much greater output of power. Incentivized by the 30% Federal energy tax credit, combined with state, utility and local solar incentives, Solar Farms are shooting up across the country. Each incarnation is more attractive and effective than the last, and the widespread community support for all that is eco-friendly lends to huge crowdfunding possibilities. Solar farms can vary in size, from small to thousands of acres. We talk often about re-purposing underused & vacant areas that may otherwise serve as a location for social erosion. The possibilities of powering communities from a piece of vacant land within, are endless. What if vacant eye-sore lots could become ground for affordable, sustainable energy powering under-privileged neighborhoods?
Related Article: 7 Insider Tips for Your Energy Efficient Home Checklist
Some farmers fear the cost of solar equipment. There are many grants and loans purposed to help farmers get started, and the investment return occurs relatively quickly. Crops can still be fostered, and animals can still graze amongst the solar panels. There is such a small environmental impact (other than positive) compared to producing electrical power. As a side note, such income could help farmers secure future financing, when needed. And, Patch of Land’s forward real estate thinking pulls us into the direction of realizing any potential increase in real estate value. Solar-powered farming provides just that: Marketing of a more valuable, innovatively run, green property.
It takes but one property owner, and a small parcel of land to provide the energy needed to power an entire neighborhood. Get together and inspire each other to make changes that inspire the preservation of our earth, and you will be bringing communities together at the same time. Solar energy, with such huge investment potential is key to this, and solar farming takes this potential to a new level. Effort made toward preserving our planet is inspiring to the communities empowered by their part in achieving something benefiting the greater good.
Are you interested in picking the brains of solar farm savvy thinkers? Consider joining a Solar Savvy web community of solar farming-interested friends, such as this renewable energy discussion group.
Can you think of any vacant, yet sun-wielding areas near you that could house a solar panel or more? Leave a comment.
This entry was originally published on May 27, 2015.