The image of a rural plot with a wind turbine producing electricity to be fed into the electricity grid with cattle milling about underneath grazing the grass has become a familiar one, but more and more rural Australian landholders are also making the choice to own and run solar farms.
With even a moderately sizable piece of land in non-urban Australia, you could stand to reap the financial benefits of having a solar farm installed on part of your property. Solar farming is an activity comparable to wind farming, but perhaps better suited to dry, low-wind country with minimal crop production or grazing potential. With the current incentive schemes in place for solar power, provided you are near an electricity grid, you could make almost any sunny, flat, dry, windless, under- or unproductive piece of land into a profit-centre.
What sort of financial benefits do solar farms offer?
We have written extensively about the incentive schemes for solar power in Australia–the nation-wide REC (solar credit) scheme through the Enhanced Renewable Energy Target (eRET), as well as state-by-state feed-in tariffs. Many people imagine solar panels only as something to be put on top of the roof of a grid-connected urban home or a remote power system designed to power a residence too far away from the electric grid. However, under the eRET, there is good reason to consider installing a large-scale solar system on an open piece of land solely for the purpose of generating a profit: the Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) are the new RECs for large-scale systems.
Combined with other tax incentives, LGCs will greatly reduce the upfront fixed costs of a solar farm installation, and depending on the generousness of the large-scale feed-in tariff that your state offers, your system could pay for itself in as early as 3 or 4 years’ time. On top of this, a solar farm requires very little maintenance or inputs once up and running, and will continue to produce a passive income for you with low overheads, functioning for 25-35 years with minimal loss of productivity. Long-term returns from feed-in tariffs are guaranteed in all states.
Solar farms: What else do you need to consider?
Circumstances vary from state to state and from property to property. If you are interested in owning and running a solar farm, Solar Choice Commercial manages the tender process for a wide variety of large-scale solar power projects throughout Australia, including rural solar farms. We can offer you professional consultancy and management advice on your project. Please contact our Commercial Tenders Management team on 1300 78 72 73 for more information.
Written by James Martin
Solar Choice Analyst
© 2010 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
Sources and Links:
Australian Government “Solar Flagships” Programme website
Image of Marble Bar Solar Farm from Horizon Power website
He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.
James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
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