Benefits of Solar Energy
Distributed Utility Solar
How does solar fit into your community ?
Utility Solar Basics
Small scale utility solar farms are 1-20MW. Most of these solar farms are less than 5MW and fit on 12 acres
These solar farms are interconnected in and around rural areas and communities and provide local benefits of resilience and renewable energy. Currently Oregon has ______ projects in this size range in operation totaling ______ MW.
Benefits to Land Owners and Municipalities
Utility Solar projects provide revenue opportunities to landowners on land that may not be as useful for farming.
Municipalities and counties realize financial benefits through taxes.
Dual Use Sites
One of the most interesting results of all the land use planning and other processes involved in citing these projects is dual use for farming and energy.
Oregon is now home to the nation’s largest solar apiary, a product of months of coordinated planning among Old Sol Apiaries, Pine Gate, a developer of large solar farms in South Carolina and Oregon, and Lomakatsi Restoration Project, an Ashland-based ecological restoration organization.
In a recent study it was found that Solar panels increase grasses for sheep and cows by 90%.
Solar Farms Impact on the Land
Solar farms typically have less impact on the land and surrounding environment than most farming uses have.
They don’t use pesticides
They don’t use fertilizers
They don’t have waste products that impact nearby waterways
They use limited amounts of herbicides to control noxious weeds
The land essentially stays fallow for the life of the system - and the land can be fully restored to it's original condition at the end of the solar farms life.
Solar farms can be dual use when appropriate, integrating seamlessly into adjacent farming communities.
Solar bee farm apiaries and sheep grazing are two examples of dual use solar + farming
Small solar PV farms have very little to no environmental impact.
They don’t have any air emissions like other power plants or farms
They don’t negatively impact wildlife
They don't impact air quality
They don't impact water sources
They quietly produce some of the cleanest energy on the planet
Very small areas have concrete coverage - your average house has more…and farm buildings typically have much more.
Choosing the Proper Location
Selecting the location of a solar farm has a few basics.
Choosing the right location considerations include:
A willing land owner that is interested in augmenting her revenue with a solar site lease.
A site that is very close to an existing power line to interconnect with.
A fairly flat piece of land that does not have excessive slope to it. Preferably it has been utilized in the past (ie not forested, fallow farmland, cleared in the past) or is suitable without a significant effort.
Suitable land may be reclamated land, but not hazardous.
The amount of land needed for solar is limited by several factors:
A single site can be as small as 5-12 acres. Other projects can up to 70 acres or so, depending on the size of the farm and energy needed.
The amount of farms in any one location is limited by the space available on the power lines. There is typically only enough space for a few of these farms in close proximity.
Typical solar farms use about 5 - 7 acres per MW.