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Difference Between Community and Commercial Solar Farms

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Community and commercial solar farms both participate in solar energy but on different scales. Commercial solar projects are much larger compared to community solar projects. Clean energy is a new initiative for many states across the country and welcomes both community and commercial solar farms.

Community Solar Farms

A community solar farm is a solar power installation that is owned and operated by multiple individuals, businesses, or organizations in a specific geographical area. Participants in a community solar farm typically purchase or lease a share of the solar panels. Then the power they produce allows them to receive a credit on their electricity bills. This is for the energy generated by their portion of the solar array. The primary goal of community solar farms is to provide access to solar power for people who may not be able to install their own solar panels. Whether it is due to factors such as cost, lack of suitable roof space, or being unable to own their own property. Community solar farms produce less energy because they are smaller. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, community solar programs will differ depending on the regulations and laws of the state. Subscribers will be presented with different economic opportunities. In states with permits, subscribers will have two bills; one from the solar program for their solar energy and the other from the utility for the traditionally-generated power. Some states are aiming to make the process simpler by combining the two bills.

Commercial Solar Farms

A commercial solar farm is typically owned and operated by a private company or organization. They are designed to generate electricity on a large scale for commercial or industrial use. These solar farms are usually located in areas with abundant sunshine and plenty of open land, such as deserts or farmland. Renewable energy developers seek out large acres of land for commercial solar projects to have the most energy produced. The electricity generated by commercial solar farms is typically sold to utilities or large corporations, rather than directly to consumers. The amount of acreage needed to be considered a commercial solar farm can vary. This depends on several factors, such as the capacity of the solar farm and the location of the site. In general, commercial solar farms are designed to generate a significant amount of electricity and typically require a larger land area compared to residential or community solar installations. A typical commercial solar farm may require anywhere from a few acres to hundreds of acres of land, depending on the size of the installation and the energy demands it's meant to serve.

  • For example, a 1 MW solar farm (capable of producing 1 megawatt of power) may require approximately 5 to 10 acres of land, while a larger 100 MW solar farm could require up to 500 to 1,000 acres of land.

It's important to note that the size of a commercial solar farm can vary depending on the efficiency of the solar panels used, the amount of sunlight the site receives, and other factors such as shading and terrain. Therefore, the acreage required for a commercial solar farm can vary widely based on the specific project details.

Is Your Land Right for Community or Commercial

Landowners can benefit from having a solar farm on their land. It is a great source of passive income throughout the lifetime of a solar lease. But how can you tell if your land is best for commercial or community solar energy production? A multitude of factors affect whether or not land qualifies for a solar lease, including amount of acreage available, investment costs, and your land considering its proximity to electrical infrastructure. With the use of LandGate’s free land report, landowners can see their land evaluated for a potential solar farm. Landowners will be able to see:

  • Exclusion zones

  • Buildable acreage

  • Proximity to a transmission line

  • Proximity to a distribution line

  • Proximity to a substation

  • Amount of sunlight

  • Proximity to other solar farms in your area

You can see all of the data listed above and get a free estimate for your potential lease payment below!


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