See what a solar farm looks like – visit our Featured Projects page to see both operational and nearly complete solar sites.
General Solar Farm Questions
What is a solar farm?
A solar farm is a site that hosts a large quantity of ground-mounted photovoltaic (pv) solar panels. A solar farm can be really large (100+ acres) or relatively small (20+ acres). Small solar farms typically generate between 1 and 20 megawatts (MW) of solar energy (one MW of solar can power approximately 160 homes, and it takes about 8.3 acres per MW). The energy produced on a Pine Gate solar farm is typically pumped directly into the energy grid via an interconnection agreement with a local utility company.
How many solar farms are there in the US?
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA) there are more than 2,100 developments in operation that generate about 48 gigawatts (GW) of power. There is also, however, over 30 GW of solar development under construction or in the planning stages.
Why is solar farming so popular all of a sudden?
Factors including climate change, energy security and the need to reduce dependence on foreign oil have resulted in a turning point in our nation’s attitude about solar power. Concurrently, the cost of solar power development has decreased dramatically in recent years. Solar power is one of our most prevalent and economical renewable resources, and we finally have the technology to use it to its fullest potential.
What’s the difference between PV and CSP solar panels?
First, PV stands for photovoltaic and CSP stands for concentrated solar power. According to NASA, pv solar works to convert sunlight into energy at the atomic level. The panels are made of semi-conductive material that has a positive and negative side. When the light hits the panel, a reaction occurs in which electrons are separated from atoms and an electrical current (electricity) is generated. This current is then captured and can be uploaded to the grid for distribution.
CSP, on the other hand, is a much more involved process. According to SEIA, CSP uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy, which heats a transfer fluid, like synthetic oil. This fluid heats water in order to produce steam. The steam is employed to power a turbine and this turbine produces the electricity.
I’ve been hearing the term “distributed generation” a lot lately. What does it mean?
Distributed generation has to do with generating power close to where it will be used. Our historic energy model has depended on giant power plants located in far-off places to generate huge amounts of energy that is distributed via a complicated and expensive transmission structure.
While this method was necessary when coal and nuclear power were the standard (who wants a coal plant in their backyard?), there have always been issues associated with this strategy. Without delving into the environmental impact of coal and nuclear power, the most obvious issue is the lack of protection and security that comes with diversification (otherwise known as putting all of your eggs in one basket).
By generating smaller amounts of energy at more localized sites, the grid is not absolutely dependent on one power source. If something happens to take a distributed energy source offline, there are a number of other energy sources ready to step in and fill the gap. It’s a way to ensure a higher level of energy security. It’s also cheaper. Transmission infrastructure is expensive to build and maintain. Distributed energy sources can typically tie in to existing infrastructure closer to the point of delivery, thus eliminating the need for maintaining and building miles and miles of transmission lines and substations.
How long does the process take - from site evaluation through development?
From start to finish, the process can take anywhere from 6 to 24 months.
How do you determine land suitability?
We’ll take a preliminary look at your site and ask you some questions about the land’s current use and your future plans. Then we’ll analyze your land’s topography, search it for wetlands and conduct an FAA screening and historical ownership analysis. If everything looks good, we’ll then have an engineer evaluate it for utility interconnection compatibility. After this process, we can begin to negotiate terms.
If my land is deemed suitable, what happens next?
The first step in this process is negotiating with the property owner to establish a lease or purchase agreement. Once this is in place, we work diligently to receive approval for environmental screenings. Then we obtain state and federal regulatory approval, local zoning jurisdiction approval, and approval from a local utility to connect the solar farm to the grid.
How much will I get paid?
While we can’t guarantee a number right here, we can say that our lease and purchase terms are designed to be attractive to landowners. In every case, we evaluate property within its respective market in order to establish a fair and beneficial price for both parties. We know there is a lot that you can do with your land and we want to make sure your decision to host a solar farm is one that you will benefit from and be proud of for years to come.
How close will the solar farm be to my house?
This depends entirely on the proximity of the leased parcel to your house. However, we can tell you that solar farms are quiet, and, once built, they require minimal upkeep, so you won’t notice an increase in traffic. We also typically include generous buffer zones in our plans in order to keep visual impact to a minimum.
Who is responsible for paying taxes on my land after I enter into a lease agreement?
The solar project covers any taxes associated with the lease area, as well as any rollback taxes as part of the change in the land use status.
If I lease my property, what happens to the solar farm equipment once the lease is over?
Decommissioning the solar farm is incorporated into the lease agreement. It is the responsibility of the tenant to remove any and all infrastructure associated with the solar farm.
Can I continue to use my land during the initial diligence period?
Yes, during the lease or purchase option period, you can continue to use your property in any manner you see fit, as long as it does not impact the ability of the land to be used as a solar farm in the future. Part of our option condition does include our ability to visit the site, but only in a non-invasive manner.
Where does Pine Gate Renewables operate?
We are based out of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, but we are a nationwide company. Our developments can be found in many states across the country including Florida, Texas, Colorado and the Carolinas.
What are the benefits of working with Pine Gate Renewables?
Pine Gate Renewables is quickly growing to be a premier national developer of solar-generating facilities. We are committed to the highest standards of solar site selection, development, long-term use and operation. Pine Gate Renewables is aligned with several leading cross-functional partners that are dedicated to building the highest quality solar farms in the country. Along with these partners, we are committed to generating clean energy for a brighter future.