As the solar industry progresses and grows, new technology and ideas begin to form as for how to bring about more clean renewable energy from solar power. Solar farms are just one of those results.
Solar farms, also called photovoltaic power stations and solar parks, are huge decentralized solar arrays that are meant to help supply and provide for the electric grid. From China to Colorado, these solar power plants or farms are spreading around the world, far and wide. But what, exactly, are solar farms’ purpose? What are their benefits or disadvantages or this solar project? Why are they this new, green trend that communities are flocking to pursuing worldwide?
Solar farms are an interesting new solar project that offers solar energy and, therefore, cost-effective renewable energy to those who would like access to it—but who maybe doesn’t want to install all the equipment in their own homes.
Solar Farms Meeting Communities
Slowly, after they first started popping up, communities around the world began to realize that they could use solar farms as a way to help power their neighborhood or communities without actually putting solar panels on their own roofs. By lumping all of the solar panels and technology in a dispersed area, mostly in a plain field where they can get the most sunlight, communities began to want to bring about this new way to use solar energy.
However, there are some common misconceptions about solar farms in communities. A lot of people seem to think that these solar farms are available to all in the area, but that’s not true. If you want to be a part of the solar farm, you actually have to purchase some of the solar panels already there—claiming them as “yours” so that you can then retrieve the green energy that it is producing. As you lease this solar panel, this monthly payment will replace your monthly utility bill. And, yes, in case you were wondering, even leasing a solar panel from a solar farm is cheaper than your average utility bill.
Using solar farms to power your house, versus having your own solar energy components on your own property, is beneficial for a few different reasons. Maybe you really want to go solar but you have no room to install any of the equipment… solar farms may be your answer. Or maybe the only area you can install your solar equipment is your roof, but it’s quite unsteady. Maybe you don’t own the property where you would use the solar equipment. There are many reasons why people who want to take the leap into using solar energy can’t—but now with solar farms, their difficulties get much, much easier.
Who Owns Solar Farms? How Can You Become Involved in One?
Solar farms can be owned by, in all honesty, anyone. A lot of the time in a community type of standard, solar farms are put together by a third-party business interest that will then provide solar energy to local communities in the surrounding areas, as long as they lease or rent solar panels out. However, there are really two different ways to participate in a solar farm: ownership and subscription.
The ownership model can allow participants and community members to own some of the panels or even a share in the whole project. They then get to get all benefits from the power produced from their panels or their share of the whole solar farm system.
There are different ways to finance panels in this ownership model. Basically, community members that want to gain all the benefits from a solar farm can either buy the panels needed in the solar farm up-front or they can get a loan provided through either their bank or the project developer.
Once payment has been approved, a community member then owns whichever set number of panels in the solar farm that they need to power their house (much like they would if the panels were on their own roof). Alternatively, depending on the solar farm and the project developers, the community member would just get a specific number of kilowatts needed to power their house out of the whole solar farm capacity.
The subscription model allows community members and participants to lease or rent panels or energy from solar farms. They can pay a lower price through this method, as they do not own the panels at all.
This method and model is definitely cheaper than the ownership method. Community members are able to buy and use solar energy in their household at a much lower price because they don’t own any of the panels in the solar farm. However, these monthly payments must be paid and met on time. This method tends to make participation in communities much more fluid than the method above, really because of the lower price. It’s a lower investment overall.
Even this way of leasing or subscribing to solar energy is cheaper than the average utility bill in most houses. Community members will pay to gain access to clean, green energy—and most require no upfront fees to join.
However, as with any solar farm (even ownership models), community members must live in the utility’s network area. Also, subscription method program makes it easy for members to decide to exit the whole program. Because it’s just a monthly payment, and not a whole investment as the ownership method is, it is easier to back out or move to another utility area without wasting a lot of money.
Solar farms are becoming a new trend in a variety of communities, both in America and worldwide. For people who desperately want to switch to ways to use energy and electricity in a safe and clean way, it can be hard to settle on using grid-tied or off-grid solar systems connected to their house. Solar farms, however, are great for newbies and advanced solar energy system fans alike. Whether it’s through buying your own panels in a solar farm or leasing them monthly for a lower price, gaining access to clean and efficient energy that is beneficial to the environment and public health is a new trend that is surely not going away anytime soon.