How Much Money Does 1 Acre of Solar Panels Make?

By Kami Turky

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One of the best investments you can do right now is to build a solar farm.

A 1 acre of panels can make you approximately $28,000 per year with an average ROI of about 15%.

Obviously, the exact amount of money you’ll make depends on many factors, such as how much sunlight your land receives, the capacity of the solar farm, and electricity prices in your area.

So if you need to learn more about how much money does 1 acre of panels make and how much can you make from leasing your land for a solar farm, keep reading.

What Is A Solar Farm?

A solar farm, also known as a solar park or solar plants, is a huge solar installation that typically consists of thousands of photovoltaic panels arranged in big arrays.

These solar farms are just like your typical power plants but instead of using fossil fuels to generate electricity, they “harvest” sunlight and convert it into electricity.

This generated electricity is then sold to utilities or directly to consumers, earning money for the owners of the solar farms in the process.

How Many Solar Panels Fit in One Acre?

An acre of land is 43,560ft².

And the average commercial solar panel size is 21.6ft², so accounting for the mounting hardware and spacing for maintenance and other issues, let’s say the solar panel size is 30ft².

By dividing 43,560ft² by 30ft², we get 1,452 solar panels per acre.

With an average solar panel wattage of 300W, then you can install 435.6kW of solar panels.

Now, it’s important to mention that we assumed that you will fill the entire acre of land with panels but this isn’t how solar farms are built.

You still need other components, such as inverters and electrical distribution units, which take up space as well.

So on average, you should expect to have about 200kW of solar panels per acre.

How Much Power Will 1 Acre of Solar Panels Produce?

To calculate how much power will a 1 acre of solar panels produces, first, we must know the amount of solar irradiation the panels receive, also known as peak sun hours.

Peak sun hours refers to the number of hours where the sunlight intensity averages 1,000W/m².

So when we say that location gets 4 peak sun hours per day, it’s like saying it receives 4,000W/m² of solar irradiance per day.

There are many different ways to know how many peak sun hours your land receives but since we just need an estimate, we can use this ZIP calculator.

Assuming that I’ll build a 200kW solar farm in California where I receive an average of 5.31 peak sun hours per day or 1,940 peak sun hours per year.

Then, the amount of power a 1 acre of solar panels produce can be calculated using the following formula:

Power Output (kWh) = Solar Plant Size (kW) x Number of Peak Sun Hours (h) x 0.83

So my solar farms will produce 200kW x 1940h = 337,560 kWh/year or 337.5MWh/year.

Note: The 0.83 multiplier comes from power losses, as solar pv systems lose some power due to heat, shading, debris, voltage mismatch, etc.

How Much Money Does 1 Acre of Solar Panels Make per Year?

The amount of money you can potentially profit per acre of solar panels largely depends on where you are building the solar farm and the capacity of the solar power plant (how much electricity it produces.)

On average, 1 acre of solar panels produces about 337.5MWh of electricity per year, and given a wholesale electricity price of $83 per MWh, then it’s safe to assume that your 1-acre solar farms can make around $28,000 per year.

Needless to say, this is just an average, in reality, you can expect to make an annual profit of anywhere between $21,250 and $42,500 per acre.

How Much Would a 1 Acre Solar Farm Cost?

According to SEIA, the solar farm installation costs are between $0.85 and $1.07 per watt of capacity.

And since a 1 acre of land can hold about 200kW of panels, then the total cost to build your 1-acre solar farm would range between $170,000 and $215,000.

Solar Farm ROI

Solar farms give one of the best returns on investment (ROI) of any solar project.

The average solar farm ROI is between 10% and 20%, so you should expect a payback period of about 7 years.

How Much Can You Make Leasing Your Land for Solar Farms?

You can make an annual profit of between $250 and $3,000 per acre, depending on how much sunlight your land receives, the soil quality, how far the land is from three-phase distribution lines, land prices in your area, and many more.

Last Words

With the ever-growing demand for renewable clean energy sources, solar farms are becoming increasingly popular.

They not only allow you to contribute to a more sustainable future, but they also give you a nice source of additional solar farm income.

If you are looking to build or lease your land for a solar farm, then the tips above should help you get started.

If you have any questions about solar farms, feel free to share them in the comment section below!

Kami Turky

Kami is a solar engineer with nearly a decade of experience in researching, testing, and reviewing various solar products. He has also provided technical consultation to several organizations on the best ways to incorporate solar energy into their operations. When he’s not busy helping others find the best solar solutions, Kami enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, and exploring the natural wonders of his home state.

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