Solar Farming

Hello all,

Newbe lurking for the past week and cant find what I have been looking for.

I own 5 acres in Mohave County and was looking into solar farming.

My questions are:

1. What would need to be done?
2. Where do I go to find out about Government grants for the project?
3. What would be an estimate cost for a small project such as this? (By small I mean only 5 acres available for the farm)
4. What would be the best solar panels for this type of mini power plant?
5. Where can I get estimated figures for projected sales to the power company for that area?
Any help or knowledge would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Kevin

Comments

  • lukeylukey Registered Users Posts: 21
    Re: Solar Farming

    Hello Kevin,

    Sounds like you are a very ambitious man. A five acre solar farm is a nice "little" project. There are many government programs(state and federal) that offer renewable energy incentives. Here is one that you might want to check out: www.dsireusa.org This particular site breaks down state by state what programs are available. There is also a federal incentive available.

    If you are serious about implementing this project I suggest you contact a local installer that has experience with this particular type of installation. In regards to panels, I suggest using a high voltage panel(you will need high voltage panels because of the heat). Either crystalline-based panels or thin-film with high voltage are available on the market.

    I also recommend that you work together with an established company like NAWS when it comes to getting product. If someone offers you great prices that are too good to be true, be careful, there are a lot of black sheep out there. There are some companies that offer fair prices and have the availability, but you will have to look around for them.

    Hope I was able to help a little.

    Luke
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,697 admin
    Re: Solar Farming

    A project of that size would probably draw various companies to you looking for business.

    Ask for bids and engineering estimates (use their time and money). This is not a small project and, if you have the financing available, you should get a lot of interest.

    This is not a small project and would require coordination with your local planning/building/environmental agencies, plus your local utility (who would have to install capacity and purchase your power).

    I would also recommend that you go to someplace like this in Northern California and take a couple of classes and/or tour of the place:

    http://www.solarliving.org/

    A five acre solar farm (assuming that you covered 100% of the land) would probably be one of the largest solar cell installations in California.

    5 acres = 217,800 sqft

    Assume that you cover 1/3 of the ground in solar panels

    1/3 * 217,800 = 72,600 sqft

    72 600 square feet = 6,745 square meters

    A BP 4175 panel (175 watts peak STC--ones on my home) is (mm) 1593 x 790 x 50

    6,745 / (1.593*0.79) = 5,360 panels

    which equal, approximately, (20 panels = 2,933 watts California Energy Commission rating for rebates)=

    (5,360/20)*2.933 kW peak rating = 786 kW peak rating

    Assuming you get everything wholesale ($10/watt retail installed--maybe as low as $5/watt wholesale installed)... You are talking about $3,900,000 to $7,000,000+ in costs (excluding any issues with running a megawatt of power lines to your property and building a substation) to cover 1/3 of your property with solar panels.

    Just out of curiosity, how much power/money/panels were you thinking of?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Solar Farming

    Thanks!

    I am just in the research phases right now. Land is free and clear. I have an investor with deep pockets for funds at low intrest rates. Lower than banks. I have no idea which is why i am researching this project. I believe the world is going to be changing in the next few decades and want to do my part to help.

    I started getting interested in this project after watching PBS episode on solar power and how some farmers are using solar energy as a way to supplement there incomes. ( making under 70k a year after all expense's and maintenance)

    I hope with getting help from the government and local agencies. Using the universities in the area for interns. building a good size sub station and house for the people who will be staying there. ( maintenance, researchers, students ect..) The cost of the project will be in the millions.

    Like i said. I am just in the researching stages right now. grants have all ready passed their deadline for this year.

    The more info i get the easier it will be to get this project off the ground.

    thanks for the links and help so far.



    Kevin  :-)
  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Farming

    I haven't read this bill but it might offer some incentives you could use.

    http://www.seia.org/solarnews.php?id=135
    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,962 ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Farming

    The Nova program "Saved By The Sun" was showing systems on farms in Germany, where the government guaranties payment of 50 cents kHr for 20 years for all PV produced energy. Here in the US, wholesale rates are more like 2-4 cents kWh, that being what a power company would pay an independent producer energy for. You also have to be near a place that would need the energy or you just lose the energy in the transformers and line losses.

    So do your ROI on 3 cents kHr and build housing when and if anyone is remotely interested in more than a field trip wants to be your new roomate ...

    As for things changing and of course IMHO, in the US, we will just keep increasing the use of COAL to meet our energy needs ... we have 2-300 years worth and it will always be cheaper than solar PV.


  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,697 admin
    Re: Solar Farming

    Assuming your location is somewhat similar to Daggot CA for weather and sun... A flat 1kW fixed array would generate about 6.6 kWhr per day (1 year average):

    http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/pubs/redbook/PDFs/CA.PDF

    786kW * 6.6 kWhr/day * 365.25 days/year = 1894770.9 kWhrs/year

    At $0.04 per kWhr * 1894770.9 kWhr/year = $75,790.84 per year.

    $75,790.836/$3,900,000 = 0.0194% return (excluding depreciation, tax breaks, subsidies, maintenance, etc.).

    So, unless you get a 50-75% state/federal subsidy to build the array, you are already talking about a 2% ROI (low cost build, best price from utility).

    If there is a location nearby that uses lots of electricity (water pumping plant, large industrial plant, etc.) you might be able to offset some of their electricity at a much higher rate (with the warning that the local utility has the right to charge large customers who offset with on site power generation--by law)... You might be able to build a better return.

    One suggestion I have made before to folks looking to building large solar installations but with little direct energy/utility experience would be to contact a local college or university. The reasons are several...

    1. Getting students and professors (electrical, mechanical, business, environmental sciences, etc.) can get you lots of free labor to get the project started.

    2. Involving a local school can get great free press because of the legitimacy gained by working with a good school/professor.

    3. Good press can get a larger company(ies) (utility, solar panel mfg., inverter mfg., etc.) interested to help with getting over hurdles (legal, engineering, environmental).

    4. Once you have press and corporate backers, you can work the political angle (zoning, power lines, environmental, etc.) better.

    Again, this is a big project and needs to be professionally managed or else a minor mistake can taint the entire plan.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,462 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Farming

    And don't forget about the NIMBY effect (Not In My Back Yard) and the environmental effects on the sand flea and the vegetation die off that will affect the food supply for the {insert 300,000 critters that eat sagebrush}. Also, it may attract Fire Ants, and upset the planets orbit using this un-natural technology.
    permit denied

    Somehow these guys found a way to do it:
    http://www.greenwatts.com/pages/SolarOutput.asp
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

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