A solar farm can have numerous benefits. Some of them include cleaner and greener energy utilization that leads to a safer and sustainable environmental future.
Most solar farms these days are looking to expand and benefit from government subsidies and recovery of costs throughout the years.
Having a solar farm can have you spend thousands of dollars for the construction and installation expenses including the acquisition or lease of land for the purpose. This is why people are switching to other methods like rooftop solar panels.
However, for the greater good and increased profit in the longer run, experts often suggest looking into community solar farms.
Often regarding economies of scale and locality-wise development of green energy, community solar farms are becoming popular as well.
In this article, we would understand what exactly are community solar farms and how they work. We would also discuss their advantages and disadvantages and whether they are really worth it, or suitable for your needs.
What Are Community Solar Farms?
In essence, a community solar farm is like having a rooftop solar panel but without really having to face the construction expenses and maintenance costs.
You get to have a consumption bracket as per the solar panel allotted to you from the solar farm and you only have to pay for your share as opposed to the entire expense of having a solar farm or the electricity produced and consumed.
Community solar farms encompass a network of several solar panels and more often than not also provide the facility of credit utility as per the savings and consumption of electricity.
The idea is to use solar farms on a shared basis, which is why most community solar farms, as the name suggests are found in communities or societies where people have collectively decided to make the switch and opt for solar energy for their electricity consumption.
It is fairly obvious that the number of houses that can be allotted towards a community solar farm depends on the size of the locality and the solar farm installed.
You don’t really have to give up the space on your roof for a solar panel installation and you get to utilize solar energy to cut down on your electricity bills as well. Let us discuss more the benefits and disadvantages of community solar farms.
Pros & Cons of Community Solar Farms
- No worries about your space: Having a subscription to a community solar farm would mean that you do not need to acquire land or give up the roof for the installation of solar panels.
- No costs of installation and construction: With no construction or installation taking place, you do not have to make any expenses for a community solar farm. They are developed by a third party that offers them for consumption on the basis of allotment and subscription.
- Monthly fee based on your consumption: The monthly fee cycle is a suitable system in place to ensure that you only pay for what you consume. With the help of virtual net metering, you can also avail credit on your consumption that can be utilized in the future when you may need more units, like in extreme weather conditions.
- Flexibility and independence: Quite naturally, a community solar farm allows you a great deal of flexibility and independence as the solar panels are not attached to your property and there is no requirement for repair or maintenance cost.
- Economies of Scale: One of the biggest advantages of community solar farms is economies of scale. This concept refers that when you utilize something in bulk, the individual consumption cost is minimal. With a pre-constructed solar farm in a large area, you only pay for a small portion, thus, the cost is lesser than what you would incur in the case of a local solar farm.
- You still pay for electricity, without the benefit of tax subsidies and incentives: A major disadvantage in opting for a community solar farm is that you do not get the benefit of government incentives and subsidies as the solar panels are not installed on your property.
- Feasibility and accessibility: It must be noted that community solar panels may not be available or feasible to install in every locality, which is why they are not a go-to option for switching to green energy yet.
- The monthly fee for subscribing to a community solar farm is usually more than what could be with rooftop solar panels
Community vs. Rooftop
The debate about whether to go for a community solar farm or a rooftop solar farm is long-standing.
However, since the purpose and application of both these methods are entirely different, you may not need to worry about it as much as you think.
If you are a tenant and do not plan to live in the locality for long, it is obvious that you might not want to invest in a huge upfront cost to install solar panels on your roof.
Rather, it is ideal in such a case to go for a connection with the community solar farm.
Rooftop solar farms are on the other hand a great option if you don’t live in a shared household and are planning to stay in a locality for the long term.
In this manner, installing and spending an upfront cost with a rooftop solar panel can also be helpful in administering your own electricity and gaining several incentives and subsidies from the government.
Are Community Solar Farms Worth It?
The simple answer to this question is – it depends. You must focus on considering the factors involved in subscribing to a community solar farm or having your own rooftop solar panel system.
After assessing the benefits and disadvantages of both, you must also look at the practical considerations like the locality you live and whether the switch to solar energy is a feasible investment or not.
You must also take into account the maintenance costs and options like net metering accordingly.
However, changing to solar energy is the right choice in the present time as either way, it does help you save your expenses and contribute to a better and greener future.