Are solar panels worth it for small scale farmers?
A growing number of small-scale farms and agricultural businesses with land are taking an interest in solar power. It’s not hard to understand why; many large farms have seen considerable success with solar panel projects, so it is natural to consider it as a possibility.
Here we take a look at whether large-scale solar panel installations could benefit smaller farms.
One of the reasons that so many farmers are choosing to use their land for solar panels rather than traditional farming is the fact that it offers a secure and consistent income. Modern farming can be a complex business with a range of factors squeezing profits or even making previously lucrative crops no longer financially viable.
Solar panels offer a consistent flow of money that can actually be far more valuable to farmers over the unknown factors of crop yields and demand. Having a predictable, guaranteed income is definitely something that any business with land should consider.
A safety net in uncertain times
With challenges to the economy coming from the Covid-19 pandemic and the unusual period of change following Brexit, it is natural for businesses in all industries to look for alternative sources of income.
For small farmers, solar projects can provide this. In these difficult and uncertain times, this kind of income can provide something of a safety net. To some farmers, this worth more than the potential boom or bust nature of other uses of space.
What is a suitable site?
If you are considering the possibility of having a solar panel array on your farm, you need to ensure that you have a suitable site for it. As a minimum, you will need to be close enough to a suitable power supply; this might be a 33kV distribution line or substation.
In terms of the best kind of physical location from a perspective of getting the best possible output, this depends on where you can place the panels.
For some farms, putting panels on a roof is the best option: this never requires planning permission and it can provide optimal output. If you are placing the panels at ground level, the ideal scenario is to position your array on a slight slope that is south-facing. They should also be in an area where nothing blocks the sun at any point.
How quickly will you see a return?
This is difficult to quantify as it depends on a large range of factors. Many things influence the cost of a commercial solar panel array, including the number of panels and the types of panels. Equally there are various issues influencing how fast it returns money, such as the location of the array and where your farm is based.
A large array can provide substantial profit, but the initial setup costs will naturally be higher. And as a necessity of geography, more southerly farms are available to make better returns than northerly farms, as there is simply more sunlight further south.
Is it worth it for small scale farmers?
We have talked about some of the benefits of solar panel arrays in agricultural settings. Whether it is right for you truly depends on your current situation and the kinds of yields and profit you can make with your farm.
If your farm has a suitable site that is not currently being used for a high-value part of your operation, investing in a solar project could be an ideal solution.
If you are interested in learning more, the expert team at Geo Green Power has years of experience providing solar panel arrays to farms and other agricultural businesses. Get in contact with us today – we would be happy to provide you with more information.