For several decades now, solar has been used to produce clean energy and reduce power bills.
While solar panels are not a new invention (having been with us since 1883), creating efficient, clean, and recyclable solar panels is a work in progress.
If you plan on installing a solar module on your farm or ranch, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your panels.
Let’s cover some key points.
Clean, But Not Perfect
Many environmentalists have pointed out that most solar panels contain a mix of potentially harmful substances, including cadmium, arsenic, silicon, copper, and lead.
Currently, when panels reach the end of their life cycle, they’re recycled at a rate of about 10% — not an ideal scenario.
While this presents a problem, some have been concerned over the potential for substances to leak into ground soil while panels are still in use.
Fortunately, proper maintenance can prevent leakage.
The Effects of Solar Modules on Underlying Soil
Under normal conditions, solar panels are sealed not to expose the materials to the surrounding environment.
However, occasionally panels have been improperly sealed or otherwise contaminated with toxic chemicals during manufacturing.
For this reason, only purchase solar panels from a reputable manufacturer.
The last thing you need is damaged equipment on your land.
It could leak substances into the ground that go unnoticed for long periods.
Otherwise, extreme weather could damage paneling that makes quick repairs impossible.
In either case, you should carefully assess panels’ durability for extreme weather conditions before purchasing.
Considerations for Installing Solar Modules
Solar installations are generally safe for use in large-scale farm and ranch settings.
It can be preferable to locate panels in an area that drains away from grazing areas, though some ranchers graze goats and sheep around panels to manage plant growth.
You could also let cattle roam in the same pasture, but be mindful to keep a 7-foot clearance so that the panels stay out of harm’s way.
Also, you’ll want to consider spacing when placing your panels.
Panels limit the amount of light that reaches the ground, which is vital for vegetation growing underneath it.
Spacing is also important for regular inspections so that workers can easily access your panels.
Are Solar Modules Worthwhile?
Solar technology and solar recycling are continuously evolving.
In just the lifespan of a single installation, technology for retiring solar panels (aka “putting them out to pasture”) will continue to improve over time.
This is good news since solar energy is significantly more energy-efficient than fossil fuels.
What does this mean for you?
Solar modules are a great choice for your farm or ranch to:
- Significantly reduce your operational costs
- Boost your profits
- Give you a return on your investment
- Break your dependency on the utility company
- Send excess power back to your utility company for credits
At Unbound Solar®, we’re committed to providing custom solar installations to meet your energy needs.
Contact us to explore your solar options today.