Installing a solar farm is a huge project with significant costs attached. This article looks at the cost implications of setting one up.
Requirements such as leasing a land big enough to build a solar farm, purchasing equipment, maintenance and lots of other factors to consider will add up to cost significantly.
So, how much exactly will it cost to install a solar farm?
What Is A Solar Farm?
The need for renewable and clean energy systems around the world has made solar power one of the most preferred by both investors and users. There’s an increasing demand for solar power, and so, the concept of solar farms has become increasingly viable. Now, what is a solar farm?
This concept isn’t new. However for those that don’t know, it is simply a photovoltaic power station. Solar panels and equipment are installed in a large expanse of land (usually several acres) for the sole purpose of power generation.
This is then sold to the electricity grid.
Solar Equipment and Installation Cost
To start a solar farm project, it is necessary to adequately factor in the cost of equipment. This will take up a significant part of the entire solar farm farm cost. So, what equipment are required? There are basically 5 main types of solar equipment
These include solar panels, racking, inverter, performance monitoring and storage option (that is, a grid connection or battery). Let’s discuss each of these.
When looking at solar panels, multiple factors need to be considered. The main considerations will include the panel type or brand.
There are lots of brands available. Some of the top brands include Sunpower, LG, Silfab, Panasonic, Canadian Solar, Hanwha Q CELLS, Trina Solar, and JinkoSolar. These are top brands due to their high efficiencies, warranty and competitive pricing.
Solar panel type on the other hand has to do with the make. There are two main types of panels. They include monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells. So, which is the best? Monocrystalline solar panels are the best. So, how much do solar panels cost?
i. Solar Panel Cost
There are 6 and 10 kilowatt solar panel systems. These consist of a long list of brands. However, we’ll be restricting our focus to the 8 monocrystalline solar brands mentioned earlier. The cost range varies as show below;
Sunpower Corporation cost for 6kW panels range between $16,980 to $22,980. The cost of 10kW panels will range from $28,300 to $38,300. LG 6kW panels range from $15,840 to $19,800. Cost of 10kW panels range between $26,400 and $33,000. Silfab 6kW solar panels range from $14,820 to $19,980. 10kW Silfab panels will range from $24,700 to $33,300.
Panasonic 6kW panels cost $15,840 to $20,040. 10kW panels cost $26,400 to $33,400. Canadian Solar 6kW panels cost $15,780 to $19,500. 10kW panels cost $26,300 to $32,500. Hanwha Q CELLS 6kW panels range from $15,180 to $19,500. 10kW panels range from $25,300 to $32,500. Trina Solar Cells 6kW panels cost $14,950 to $18,300. 10kw panels cost $24,900 to $30, 500.
Jinko Solar 6kW solar panels range from $16,260 to $20,700. 10kW panels range from $27,100 to $34,500.
Racking is required for the installation of solar panels on a farm. These are mounting systems which are fixed to the ground while the panels are mounted on top. The number of racking equipment required will depend on how large the farm is. Spacing will also determine the number required.
The cost of a single unit solar rack mount will range from $15 to $110. This will be multiplied by the total number of racks required. For instance, if you require 300 rack mounts, the cost per unit is multiplied by 300. Using the higher cost range, we’ll get 110 x 300 which equals $33,000.
Solar inverters come in different brands. Some of the top brands include Magnum Energy inverters, SMA Sunny TriPower Core1, Schneider Conext, SolarEdge HD-Wave, and SolarEdge US-U. The cost for these top inverter brands are as follows; Magnum Energy inverter starts at $2,255. SMA Sunny TriPower Core1 480v goes for $7,475.
Schneider Conext comes at $3,850. SolarEdge HD-Wave costs $1,295 while SolarEdge US-U costs $1,295. The output rating for these solar inverters range from 4.4kW to 6kW.
There are several performance monitoring equipment. These range from battery monitors, photovoltaic or PV meters and charge controllers. A battery monitoring kit comes in various models. Some of the most popular models include the the Magnum Energy ME-BMK with shunt at $175 (This will cost $170 without shunt). The Magnum Energy ME-MW-W Magweb wireless monitoring costs about $560.
An analogue PV meter starts at $55 while charge controllers range from $465 to $980. These are unit costs. For solar farm projects, you might want to take advantage of the economies of scale by purchasing in bulk.
This has to do with storage equipment like batteries. When we talk of batteries, we are referring to deep cycle battery systems. Like most solar equipment, these come in different brands. Some of the most popular models include the Four Star Solar Rolling Thunder RT-2000 Backup which costs $4,550 with 6kW AC output.
Others include the Four Star Solar Backup Power that goes for $5,512, Crown AGM 220 Ah 24 VDC at $1,022 and Crown AGM 440 Ah 12 VDC at $1,056. Others are the Fullriver AGM 415 Ah 12 VDC which goes for $1,004 and the Crown 430 AH 12 VDC for $744.
SOLAR FARM COST PER ACRE
How much does it cost to set up a solar farm? The initial cost required to start up this business did vary. The PV type installed, the size, the installer, locations, availability of sunlight and the company to supply the panels are the factors that will affect the cost of starting a solar farm.
But on average, a solar farm is expected to generate at least 1Megawatt which will be capable of serving more than 200 households. With that in mind, the general installation for a 1MW could be assumed to cost $1 million.
As noted initially, a solar farm is capital intensive, therefore starting a solar farm might require that you seek for grants from governments or private sources. Note that your business model must be impressive, if your business model is appealing, a large amount of money might be given from investors. In fact, Banks may be interested to offer traditional business loans for starting up.
While these are he major equipment to be purchased for a solar farm, there are still other cost implications to consider. These include tax credits (which makes up about 30%), installation costs which could range from $33,000 $150,000 or more based on the size of the solar farm.
However before anything else, you’ll need to find a suitable property for a solar farm. The cost of leasing such property will impact on overall cost. The cost incurred will depend on how well a lease agreement is negotiated.
The above information include the cost breakdown for a solar farm. These consist of the most main equipment plus installation costs. Each of these have been briefly discussed. Because solar farms will require bulk purchase, you’ll be benefiting from the economies of scale.