Solar Farm or Solar Park is a large collection of photovoltaic cells whose main purpose is to absorb energy from the sun and convert that solar energy into electricity. Solar farms produce electrical energy through the sun’s energy directly or through photovoltaic cells. The produced electricity is sent to the power grid for distribution and consumption by the consumers. Solar Farms are also called photovoltaic power stations. These farms are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Moreover, these solar farms are quite different from rooftop solar panels as well as from commercial solar systems.
Solar Farms are decentralized, unlike commercial and residential solar panels. They consist of ground-mounted large panels which are spread across large areas. They do not provide Power to homeowners or local end-users; rather, the Power is sent to the grid station.
Types of Solar Farms:
- Utility Scale Solar Farms
- Community Solar Farms
Utility Scale Solar Farms
Utility-scale solar farms are large solar power plants that produce electricity. According to the Energy Information Administration, “A “Utility Scale” power plant generates 1 or more than 1 megawatt of electricity.” This electricity is sent to the grid station and distributed to the end consumers.
Today the world is moving towards renewable sources of energy because renewable sources of energy have long-term advantages. Unlike non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels, these sources will never run out. Moreover, these energy sources are clean and do not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, these are the cheapest form sources of power production. Because of all these reasons, the utility-scale solar sector has intensified in the 21st century. Solar panels have become one of the leading sources of production of electricity.
Solar power plants have the same technology used by residential solar power plants. There is not much difference between the solar utility farm and the one used in homes. The only difference is the operational scale. Solar farms are operated in greater magnitudes and supply energy for commercial usage.
Types of Utility-scale Solar Farms
There are two further sub-types of utility-scale solar farms:
- Solar Photovoltaic
- Thermal Solar Power or Concentrated Solar Power
Solar Photovoltaic Power Plants
A huge number of solar panels are connected to create a power plant. This power plant is similar to that used in the home and is installed on the rooftop. Apart from the structure, both power plants have similar technology for electricity production. The solar cells capture the sunlight in both cases and convert that sunlight into Direct Current (DC) through a photovoltaic process. The Direct current (DC) is then converted into Alternate current (AC), and this is the electricity which is used in homes. However, some key areas are where utility-scale solar farms differ from home solar panels. These areas include scalability, tracking technology, and utility-scale solar farms mounted on the ground.
Thermal Solar Power or Concentrated Solar Power
The concentrated solar power plant uses mirrors for the production of electricity. It used hundreds of thousands of HelioScopes (special mirrors). These special mirrors reflect sunlight, and a central collector collects the sunlight. The prominent collector stored the heat energy in molten salt. Further, this energy is used to generate electricity via steam turbines. They are called thermal solar power plants because they use the heat energy from the sun.
Community Solar Farms
A community solar farm is a small-scale solar system that generates electricity for the local community, like small businesses or homes. It causes approximately 5MW of electricity.
A kilowatt means a thousand watts of Power. Watt is an SI (International System of Units) power unit equal to a joule per second. At the same time, Kilowatt is equivalent to a thousand joules per second and is the rate of quantifying Power used per second.
1kilowatt = 1 Thousand watt
1kilowatt= 1 Thousand joule/second
A community solar farm is a large-scale single solar installation under which all the residents share the output of it. It is a renewable energy source, so it helps people save money. Community solar farms are also suitable for people who cannot afford rooftop installation. All the residents of a community share the output of a single solar farm. Therefore, it is called a community solar farm
How much does a solar farm cost?
According to the Solar energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar farms typically cost $0.89 to $1.01 per watt. It means the solar farm that provides the energy of 1MW will cost around $890,000 to $1.01 million. This is the cost of the solar farm when you already have the land and do not need to buy the one to build solar farms. The energy produced through these solar farms is much cheaper than what is produced through fossil fuels. Moreover, these are much cheaper than other solar systems like rooftop solar systems.
Following are some of the advantages of solar power systems. It is a sustainable source of energy production. It is also environmentally friendly and reduces carbon footprint. Moreover, the maintenance cost of solar panels is also cheaper. In addition to it, it will also increase the market value of your house, businesses etc. One of the best feature of these solar farms is their low cast. This is the biggest reason that people are converting towards solar energy. Apart from the cheap production of electricity, solar farms are great competent to fossil fuel energy sources.