Renewable Energy - solar

Are there any incentives

There is significant financial support to help bring down the costs of solar energy.

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act authorized U.S. Treasury Grants that cover 30 percent of the cost of new solar installations.

  • The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) offers grants (up to 25 percent) and loans (up to 75 percent) for rural energy projects. The deadline to apply is in June.

  • Many states also offer programs to offset the costs of solar power. A full database of state incentives can be found at www.dsireusa.org.

Can I obtain financing

The installation cost of solar PV is high, which poses a barrier for many people. Luckily, many companies have emerged that provide power purchase agreements (PPAs), in which the company leases space from a landowner, installs solar panels, and sells the client electricity at a fixed, below-market rate for 25 years. PPAs work well for users with good solar resources and a demand for low-cost electricity, but who do not have the upfront capital to purchase their own system.

  • DFA Energy is currently working to identify solar providers who can offer discounts and financing to DFA members.

  • To learn more about power purchase agreements, visit www.epa.gov/grnpower/buygp/solarpower.htm.

For more information, contact DFA Energy.

 

How much will it cost

Currently available solar PV systems cost about $7,500 per kw of installed capacity (before any tax deductions or government incentives).

  • To buy and install a 25 kw system, it will cost about $187,500 before any government incentives.

 

What is Solor PV

Photovoltaic technologies, or solar PV, are used to convert energy from the sun into electricity. Solar panels, usually made of silicon, generate an electric current when exposed to light. This energy can be stored in a battery, or converted to an alternating current for use on site or for transmission to the power grid.

Solar power, once installed, requires very little maintenance and generates no pollution. Systems last more than 25 years and produce clean power throughout their lifetime. The ability to derive reliable, low-cost electricity often makes solar power an attractive long-term investment.

 

What size system do I need

Panels take up about 100 square feet per kilowatt of capacity. While only a solar professional can give you an exact estimate of what size system your farm may need, the following equation can help you establish a rough estimate:

  • System size in kw = (Daily electricity use) * (Percent of your power you want to come from solar) / (.75 efficiency constant) / (solar rating from the map)

  • Example: My 100-cow dairy uses about 240 kwh each day and I want 40 percent of my electricity to come from solar power. I live in Colorado so my solar rating is about 5.5 hours per day.

  • (240 kwh/day) * (.40) / (0.75) / (5.5 h/day) = 23.5 kw system = 2350
    square feet

Get an estimate at getsolar.com.

 

Where can Solar PV be used

Solar PV can generate electricity anywhere with good exposure to the sun and can function as a standalone system or be tied to a grid. The power that a PV system produces depends on the size and capacity of the panels, as well as the intensity of the sun.

The map below shows solar intensity throughout the United States.