There are a number of cost factors when planning out a solar field such as location, suppliers, and government rebates that may not be common knowledge. This can make it tricky to get a rough estimate of how much it will cost to build per acre of solar panels. A good rule of thumb is that on average, a one-acre field of solar panels will cost from $400,000 to $500,000 before government incentives.
An often overlooked, yet extremely important aspect of building a solar farm efficiently is choosing a good location. The choice of location can have a large impact on the overall cost of construction, as well as on the total energy output of the solar farm. Land near metropolitan areas is likely going to be more expensive than rural property, and it can be more expensive to get permits to build in these types of areas. The flip side is that while most property is cheaper in rural areas, building the infrastructure required for an effective solar panel farm will cost more upfront than relying on existing infrastructure.
Utilizing Government Incentives
It’s entirely possible to build an acre of solar panels for under $500,000 with the help of government programs designed to promote environmentally friendly energy production. Some of these programs will pay for a portion of the cost to construct the panels, while other programs work out deals with local power companies to sell excess energy back to the public grid. Taking advantage of local government incentives is a great way to knock down some of the initial costs, and depending on your average output may even generate enough revenue to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the solar field.
Operating and Maintenance Costs
The initial $400,000 to $500,000 estimate covers construction and permit costs, but does not take into account the costs involved with maintenance and upkeep for operating an acre of solar panels. It’s worth considering that the grounds will need to be regularly taken care of to comply with local regulations, and depending on the type of solar panels you choose you may need to have them regularly cleaned and cleared of debris. A well-built and managed solar field will be able to cover these maintenance costs solely from the energy savings or profits from energy buyback programs, but it is worth keeping these expenditures in mind in case of an emergency.