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Ohio State University Extension


Powering Your Farm with Solar Electric


The agriculture sector was an early adopter of off-grid photovoltaic (PV) solar systems as a remote energy source.  Over the last decade, high cost have limited the widespread adoption of on-farm PV solar systems that are connected to the grid.  However, in recent years PV solar cost reductions have been stimulated by technology advancements and the scale of market development. According to a U.S. Department of Energy Sun Shot Report, the average installed PV solar price for midsized systems (between 10 kW and 100 kW) has dropped significantly from an average installed cost of more than $10 per DC/watt in 2000 to $1.85 per DC/watt in 2017.

In general, PV solar systems are very compatible with agriculture operations; as farmers have access to open land and often have high electricity demands. Additionally, many farmers support PV solar because it reduces volatility of future energy costs, has low maintenance costs, positive environmental attributes, and once the initial capital investment is recovered, the fuel is free. According to the 2009 On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey, solar projects are the most prominent way to produce on-farm renewable energy, as they are present in 93% of farms with on-farm renewable energy production (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2011). However, the continued expansion of grid connected on-farm PV solar applications will ultimately depend on the advancement of the overall solar energy market.

The purpose of this webpage is to provide farmers additional information reguarding on-farm PV solar development to assist them in the decision making process.  

Solar Electric Investment Analysis Bulletin Series

Solar Electric Investment Analysis - (Combined Chapters 1 - 6 )

Solar Electric Investment Analysis - Part 1: Estimating System Production

Solar Electric Investment Analysis - Part 2: Assessing System Cost

Solar Electric Investment Analysis - Part 3: Forecasting the Value of Electricity

Solar Electric Investment Analysis - Part 4: Understanding Incentives

Solar Electric Investment Analysis - Part 5: Conducting a Financial Analysis

Solar Electric Investment Analysis - Part 6: PV Solar Example

Farm Energy Development - Installing Solar to Power Your Farm

Guide to Farming Friendly Solar

Shining a Light on Agricultural Solar Energy Development

Balancing Agricultural Productivity with Ground-Based Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Development

Guide to the Federal Invstment Tax Credit for Commercial Solar Photovoltaics

Homeowner's Guide to the Federal Invstment Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics

IRS Fact Sheet - FAQs Residential Clean Energy Property Credits

An Introduction to On-Farm Solar Electric Systems

On-Farm Solar Site Assessment 

Estimating the Size of Your Solar Electric System 

Financial Considerations of On-Farm Renewable Energy 

Health and Safety Impacts of Solar Photovoltaics

On-Farm Solar Electric System Safety

USDA - Rural Energy For America Program (REAP)

Recorded Presentations

Solar Electric Economic Analysis - March 2021 - Part 1 of 4

Solar Electric Investment Analysis Webinar Series 2021 - 2 of 4

Solar Electric Economic Analysis Webinar Series 3 of 4

Solar Electric Investment Analysis Webinar Series 4 of 4

Farm Energy Management: Part 1: Strategies to Reduce Energy Costs

Farm Energy Management: Part 2: Impact of Peak Demand on Farm

Farm Energy Management: Part 3: Impact of Power Factor on Farm

Short Videos

May 2020 - Solar On A Farm: Motivations

May 2020 - Solar On A Farm: System Sizing

May 2020 - Solar On A Farm: Location and Tilt

May 2020 - Solar On A Farm: Economics

March 2014 - Swine Facility with Rooftop Solar

July 2014 - Financial Considerations of On-Farm Solar Energy

October 2012 - Solar Stock Water Systems

December 2012 - Solar Stock Water: The Installer Perspective

February 2011 - Energy 101: Solar PV