Basically, solar farms are large-scale, ground-mounted solar installations. Solar farms utilize photovoltaic (PV) panels or other means of a system that collect solar energy to make better utilization of the sun’s power.
Solar farms are also termed ‘solar parks,’ ‘solar plants,’ and ‘solar power stations.’ They work as power plants, just the same way fossil-fueled power plants have generated electricity for consumers for the last century.
Various kinds of solar farms: Utility solar v/s Community solar
The biggest differentiation between utility-scale solar farms and community solar farms is the scale of both solar. The utility-scale solar farms are larger than community solar.
Utility-scale solar farms can handle the capacity of 1 MW to 2,000 MW. On the contrary, the Community solar farms are typically under 5 MW in size, and it's not difficult to find ones that are under 100 kW.
Another major difference is to who they provide their power:
Community solar farm projects provide better service to their subscribers or members who have paid for a share of its power. Utility solar farms serve the utility company and all of its customers as part of the energy mix it carries on its power lines.
What is the solar panel farm installation cost?
At the utility scale, the capacity of the solar farms will be at least 1 megawatt, which is basically capable of the solar plant supplying the power to about 200 households. The cost per watt per solar installation will be based on various factors, that includes the availability of sunlight hours and location, which is usually around $1/watt. Thus, a 1-megawatt solar farm would cost around $1 million in the installation process.
If we compare it with residential solar, then that will amount to $3-4 per watt; this may sound low because the concept of the “economies of scale” is in full effect with this industry. The Kamuthi Power Plant, which has a 648-megawatt array, was bid at $0.93 per watt and can supply energy to over 150,000 households.
These types of gigantic solar plants cover a large area of land and are more commonly referred to as “solar farms.” When it comes to smaller, community solar systems, the common term that comes in usage is “solar gardens,” as these types of solar can best be suited onto a few acres of land or even be placed in a backyard of a decent size.
What are the solar farm land requirements?
The requirement of the land of the solar farm is at least 30 to 40 acres, but if you have smaller parcels of land, this can also occasionally bundle land together from neighboring landowners. Although the land of 100+ acre solar panel arrays considerably generates more energy, 30 to 40 acres allow us to build 5 MW solar farms. The power generated later is collected, then connected to the grid and redistributed.
A solar farm that belongs to the New York state is restricted to 5 MW with a subscription program, as capacity on the grid is faster. However, other states like Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have more capacity and are able to accommodate more or larger solar projects.
Building a solar farm consumes the time of about 6 to 12 months, although this timeline may be affected by COVID-19. The company used to handle all of the local and municipal permissions and approval processes and cover all of the expenditures. They also manage the maintenance and operation through the network of local subcontractors, who used to make the visits per year.
What should we consider while choosing the best solar panels for farm?
High-efficiency panels help in the greater production of power with limited space. One thing to take into consideration is that warranties reduce maintenance costs. Here we have mentioned some of the tips to find durable solar panels that meet the requirements of energy production.
Assess your energy needs and limitations
The kind of solar panel that suits your home best is totally dependent upon the availability of the roof space. It is seen that the polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient; those with limited roof space may have to go with the more expensive monocrystalline panels.
Comparison between the manufacturers of solar equipment
Solar panel manufacturers are organized into various tiers. The status of Tier 1 is typically reserved for the largest manufacturers with automated protection and some degree of vertical integration, including Canadian Solar.
The status of Tier 2 or 3 belongs to small- to medium-scale manufacturers. Rankings are not standardized, so what one list ranks as Tier 2 could rank as Tier 3 on another. Tier 1 solar panels are typically more expensive and also have better quality.
Always admired for high-efficiency solar panels.
The efficiency of a solar panel describes how well it converts sunlight into usable electricity. The average efficiency of a solar panel is about 18.7%. That means under ideal conditions, 18.7% of sun waves that hit the panels will be converted into usable electricity.
With monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, the purity of the crystalline silicon determines how efficient the solar panels are. Outside of power ratings and degradation rates, a variety of external factors affect the performance of a solar panel, including various factors like shade, temperature, and orientation.
The promises of solar energy companies
Once you have estimated the requirement of the solar energy along with the type of solar panel you want, it’s a good idea to get the quotes of at least 4-5 companies. Comparing multiple quotes of the companies helps in ensuring the best deal for the panel system.
After making the cost comparison, you should also pay attention to the history of the company. If you buy solar panels from a less established company, it can give you many troubles. So it becomes important to read reviews and verify that it's UL-listed.
Hire a reliable solar installer
Depending on where you get your new panels, the company may facilitate the installation services. Otherwise, you may hire a local solar installer or certified contractors to accomplish the project.
Hire a competent electrical engineer
It is always better to hire an electrical engineer to consider the proposed installation. The services of the service provider should ensure that the installation is smooth, free of unwanted surprises, and able to meet your electricity requirements.
All you need to know about solar farm installation process
So, here are the step-by-step instructions for the installation of the solar farm
Solar panels can facilitate power for both business and residential usage. In both cases, photovoltaic panels are mounted on the roof to absorb as much sunlight as possible and generate maximum power.
The following are the steps of the installation of a solar panel:
• Installing the mount
The brackets of the solar panel mounting must be installed on a prior basis. Roof-ground mounts or flush mounts must be utilized. This builds a strong foundation and supports stability. The orientation in which the PV panels (monocrystalline or polycrystalline) are mounted must be considered carefully.
The optimum direction to face solar panels must be towards the direction of the Northern Hemisphere in the south as it absorbs the most amount of sunlight. Both east and west directions are acceptable. The ideal direction for countries in the Southern Hemisphere is north.
The mounting framework must be adjusted slightly. The tilt angle might be anything from 18 to 36 degrees. Many firms utilize a solar tracker to increase conversion efficiency.
• Place the solar panels in place
After the installation of the mountings, the solar panels must be secured to the mounting structure by using nuts and bolts. The entire construction must be secured adequately to ensure durability and long-lasting workability.
• Install the electrical wiring
The next upcoming part is the installation of the electrical wiring. During the process of cabling, universal connectors like MC4 are used since they may be used with any type of solar panel. The following sequence of electrical connections can be made between these panels:
1. Series Connection: The positive (+) wire of one PV module is connected to another module's negative (–) wire in a series connection. The match of voltage with the battery bank is improvised with this type of wiring.
2. Parallel Connection: The connections are connected in a way like positive (+) to positive (+) and negative (–) to negative (–). Each wiring voltage of the panel remains the same with this style of wiring.
• Connect the solar inverter to the system
The next step is to connect the system with the solar inverter. The positive wire from the solar panel must be linked to the inverter's positive terminal, while the negative wire should be connected to the inverter's negative terminal.
For power generation, the solar inverter is linked to the Solar Battery and Grid Input.
• Connect the solar inverter to the solar battery
After accomplishing the top steps, the next step is to connect the solar inverter with the solar battery. The battery's positive terminal must be connected to the positive terminal of the inverter, and the negative terminal must be connected to the negative terminal of the inverter. To store an electrical backup in an off-grid solar system, a battery is a must-have requirement.
• Link the solar inverter to the power grid
The linking of the solar inverter must be done with the grid. A standard plug can be utilized to connect the main power switchboard. The electric board that transmits the electricity is linked to an output wire.
• Turn on the solar inverter
When all of the electrical cabling and connections are completed, turn on the inverter switch to the main switch of the home connection. Most solar inverters consist of a digital display that will reflect the statistics about your solar unit's generation and usage.
• Avoid Common Mistakes While Installation of the Solar Panels
Many mistakes are made while making the installation of the solar panel. Here we have listed some of the mistakes made while doing the installation and how we can avoid them:
• Purchasing an Overpriced system
To avoid the blunder of purchasing an overrated system, the first step is to find what will be the cost of setting up the system of your choice. Remember that different types of solar panels have differentiated prices. Make sure you go through all the options and choose the relevant one.
• Not Making a Checklist of Components
To avoid such a mistake, you need to mention a checklist of the components of the solar energy system, including solar panels, a charge controller, a power inverter, and a battery.
• Not Knowing about System Dimensions
Always consider how big the requirements of the solar system are. Add up the wattage of all the electrical devices you'll be utilizing. Calculate the number of hours per day that will be utilized by the household appliances.
What is the solar farm panel size & its Weight
The standard size of a solar cell is 156 mm X 156 mm, which is approximately 6 inches X 6 inches.
For a 60-cell solar panel, the requirement of the cell arrangement is 6 X 10 (6 columns and ten rows), and for a 72-cell solar panel cell arrangement is 6 X 12 (6 columns and 12 rows).
The Standard Sizing Of A Solar Panel Is:
- The size of a solar panel with 60 cell configuration is 39 inches X 66 inches (3.25 ft X 5.5 ft).
- The size of a solar panel with 72 cell configuration is 39 inches X 77 inches (3.25 ft X 6.42 ft).
- The thickness of 60-cell or 72-cell solar panels is around 40mm.
The Standard Weight Of A Solar Panel Is:
- The weight of a 60-cell solar panel is 19 kg.
- The weight of a 72-cell solar panel is 25 kg.
The future of solar farms - Conclusion
Moving ahead, solar community projects, utility-scale solar projects, and rooftop solar are considered a part of the renewable energy solution. This solar energy provides clean energy around the globe and replaces fossil fuel power.
Large-scale solar will become cheaper as developers of solar farms have figured out more ways to reduce the financing costs as well as the equipment costs. In the near future, it is expected to see many more solar farms.