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With high energy tariffs and the impact of non-renewable energy sources on the planet, many people are shifting to renewable energy sources such as solar energy to power their homes and offices.
Not only is solar energy better for the environment but it can also save you a lot of money on your energy bills in the long run.
The only big drawback of solar panels is that they can be a little pricey, although prices have gone down considerably over the years due to an increase in demand.
Luckily, installing solar panels is not the only way to take advantage of this clean and green renewable source of energy. Other than installing solar panels on the roofs of your property or the ground, you can also invest in community solar farms where solar panels are installed on a large scale.
Read on to find out more about solar panels and solar farm ownership, and how they compare to one another in terms of their costs, output, and savings.
Solar panels are one of the most common types of installations where the photovoltaic system is positioned on the rooftop of a home or office or on the ground to generate solar energy. The system is made up of different components that include photovoltaic modules, mounting systems, cables, solar inverters, and other accessories.
Compared to ground-based solar systems, rooftop solar panel systems are small-scale and have capacities ranging from 5 to 20 kW for residential systems and more than 100 kW for commercial systems.
To put it simply, a solar panel system is like a small power plant on your property that generates clean and green energy for you to use. The panels convert solar energy into electricity in DC form, which is then converted to AC power by an inverter connected to the grid.
Solar panels work best in places where there is ample sunlight during the day. Their performance can be hindered by cloudy weather and shadows covering the panels, which is why it is very important to mount the panels in a way to eliminate shadows and obstructions.
The size and configuration of the solar panels depend on your property’s needs and the space available either on your rooftop or on the ground, whichever is more ideal for positioning the panels.
To give you an estimate of the size of the solar panel system and the amount of power generated, a 1000-watt solar panel system requires an estimated 65 to 90 square feet of installation area.
Solar farm ownership refers to owning all or part of a shared solar facility constructed in a single location. Instead of purchasing dedicated solar panels for their property, participants can be a part of a community solar system that centralises the sourcing of solar energy and encourages sustainability on a large scale.
Solar farm ownership doesn’t require rooftop or ground panels. Instead, it allows you to be an active part and have a share of the local solar farm. There are different ownership models where the amount of ownership or the “solar share” allotted to you depends upon your electricity consumption.
Solar farm ownership can take several forms which include individual ownership, commercial ownership, investor ownership, community ownership, and third-party ownership.
Community solar ownership is where a solar farm is collectively owned by a group of individuals who share the benefits of clean energy and is particularly beneficial for individuals who cannot install solar panels on their own property such as low-income households and renters.
They are a rapidly growing form of energy generation that benefits an array of users including homeowners, businesses, non-profits, as well as other groups.
The way that solar farm ownership works is that the solar farm generates electricity from sunlight using hundreds of solar panels installed on a property. The panels form a massive system and are usually placed in columns. They are built primarily on rural land on either flat or south-facing slopes where they can take full advantage of the sun’s rays.
The electricity generated by the system is routed to the electrical system and distributed to the owners of the community solar farm. The users can also subscribe to solar farms and pay a monthly subscription fee, similar to paying energy tariffs to electricity providers.
Keep in mind though, that solar farm ownership is different from solar farm subscription. The former refers to owning part of the solar farm and the solar panels, whereas the latter is merely a form of subscription to the facility in exchange for energy.
A major difference between solar farms and rooftop solar panels is that the former uses vast amounts of land and hundreds of panels to sell clean energy to the local population, and the great thing about solar farms is that whether or not everyone participates in their ownership, everyone benefits from lower carbon emissions and better air quality, so it’s a win-win situation. However, those who are an active part of solar farm ownership enjoy that as well as incredible savings on their energy bills.
A solar farm can provide energy for 40 to over 400 families, depending on the size of the system and the number of solar panels installed.
Now that you know what solar panels and solar farm ownership are, and how both of them work, let’s look at how they both compare to each other in terms of power output, costs, and savings.
Let’s start with the basics. The power output of a solar system, both rooftop and solar farm, is calculated in watts (W). The higher the wattage of the system, the more electricity it can produce. The power output of the system is also dependent on the number of panels installed, your location, the weather conditions, and the placement of the panels.
A typical solar panel has a power output of 350W and will generate about 0.72 kWh of electricity each day. This, however, is the power output of a singular solar panel. A complete solar panel system with at least 10 panels, which is the usual size of the system for a 3-bedroom property, would generate about 7.2 kWh of electricity each day.
On average, a residential solar panel system with 12 solar panels would generate an average of 3,180 kWh of electricity every year.
Solar farms, on the other hand, are large-scale applications and can power thousands of homes at once. They can cover anything between 1 acre and 100 acres of land and are usually developed in rural areas due to their large-scale occupation.
The biggest solar farm in the UK located in Oxfordshire can produce a total of 46 MW of power and is capable of powering 14,000 homes!
Based on the average electricity consumption of a typical household in the UK, for every 5 MW of solar panels installed, a solar farm would require approximately 25 acres of land for installation and can power around 1,500 homes.
Due to significant advances in technology and a rise in the demand for renewable energy, the cost of solar panels has fallen drastically over the years.
When it comes to the upfront and installation costs of a solar panel system for your property, it is higher when compared to solar farm ownership since the costs are shared in the latter.
A standard solar panel capable of generating 250 W of electricity can cost between £400 and £500. The exact cost, however, depends on several factors such as the type and size of the system, the installation process, location and labour costs, as well as any additional components added to the system.
A 4-kW solar panel system, which is one of the most common sizes of residential solar systems, can cover around 29 square meters on your roof and cost around £6,400.
Generally speaking, the more electricity the solar panel system can generate, the higher the installation cost will be. However, one important thing to note here is that the savings will be higher as well!
For example, a smaller 3kW solar panel system will be relatively cheaper to install but, over the course of say 25 years, you won’t be able to save as much as a 6kW solar panel system.
When it comes to solar farms, there are currently over 1000 solar farms in the UK with a combined capacity of 8.67 GW of electricity. These are large-scale installations that can power thousands of properties at once.
The cost of setting up a solar farm can range from around £0.5 million for small community farms to over £50 million for large-scale setups. The total cost depends on factors such as the size of the solar farm, weather conditions, infrastructure access, and the lease costs for the land. You also have to consider the costs for the materials used as well as the installation process.
Due to large-scale setups, solar farms can benefit from economies of scale and get better deals on solar equipment, installation, and maintenance, resulting in more cost savings.
Also, instead of opting for solar farm ownership, the users can subscribe to solar farms and get a certain amount of clean solar-powered energy delivered to their properties in exchange for a monthly fee.
They don’t have to worry about the setup and installation costs and are only liable to pay for the energy that they use. This makes it easy for low to middle-income families to participate in cleaner energy at a lower cost as the initial investment for them is zero.
When it comes to choosing whether solar panels are right for you or participating in a community solar farm would be better, you need to take several factors into consideration.
Each system has its advantages and disadvantages and serves different electricity needs. Here are a few factors that might make it easier for you to choose the right system for your needs:
Rooftop solar panels are an incredibly popular choice for many businesses and homeowners, but aesthetics-wise, they are not the best. Since they are installed on the roof of the property, they might not look very appealing. Solar farms, on the other hand, have panels installed in open areas and not on the roof, which does not affect the appearance of the building.
In terms of energy independence, rooftop solar panels are the clear choice for many people as you have complete control over how much energy you produce, how much energy you use, and how much energy you save in solar batteries to be used later or to send back to the grid.
When it comes to the costs, solar farm ownership benefits from economies of scale and can help save more on installation and maintenance. In addition to that, solar farm subscription models require minimal to no upfront investments and the users can skip having to purchase or install any equipment to use clean electricity. This allows many low-income households as well as tenants to take advantage of this low-cost, clean, and green energy source.
In the end, it all comes down to what matters to you more. If you care about energy independence and wish to have more solar power and financial benefits, we suggest you go for rooftop solar panels. However, if you prefer lower upfront costs and a more aesthetically pleasing solution, then solar farm ownership is right for you.
As discussed above, a solar system is made up of several components that use the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity to be used to power residential, commercial, as well as industrial properties.
It is a great option for people looking to generate clean and green energy and reduce their carbon emissions to help save the environment. However, the biggest drawback of solar energy is that it generates energy only until the sun is shining.
The good news is that you can integrate your solar system with a battery storage system to increase the efficiency, reliability, performance, as well as flexibility of the system.
The biggest advantage of using battery storage systems is that you can store the excess energy produced by the solar panels during the day and use it during peak demand times such as during the evenings. This not only enables you to use the excess energy that would otherwise go to waste but also reduces strain on the grid during high-demand hours.
Battery storage systems are beneficial for both rooftop solar panels as well as solar farms and are available in different capacities depending on how much energy they can store.
Solar batteries not only help you produce and use 100% clean energy but are also incredibly convenient and help you immensely with cost savings.
Calder Electrical Services provides a wide range of solutions to help you play your part in making the world a more sustainable place.
If you already have solar panels installed on your residential or commercial premises, installing a battery storage system could help maximise the benefits of making your own energy.
We can assess the amount of energy your solar panels produce and install enough battery storage so that you can minimise any wastage of the energy you create. This will help lower your energy bills and make you more independent from the grid.
Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 3001 to talk to our battery storage system experts right away!
Or would like us to provide a survey and quote then please contact us and we will be happy to help.Call us on 0800 612 3001