Solar farms vary tremendously in size, defined in terms of megawatts (MW) of capacity. The kind of solar farm developers want to construct ranges from one megawatt all the way up to hundreds of megawatts.
As a general rule of thumb, a 1 MWac (alternating current) solar farm requires 4-7 acres of land.
The key variable in that 4-7 acre range is how sunny it is in your area. Solar farms in areas that get plenty of sun year-round, such as the southwestern United States, will generate more energy per acre than solar farms in the northern states. So, if you live in Texas, a 1 MW solar farm might need five acres, whereas in Minnesota it might require seven acres.
Other variables include the specific equipment used (solar panels, racking, inverters, battery storage, etc.) and on the characteristics of the land. For example:
- If more efficient solar panels are installed, fewer solar panels in total are required and thus less land is needed.
- Large solar farms require large inverters (devices that convert direct current into alternating current), and additional land may be needed to accommodate these or battery storage systems.
- Additional land may be required to compensate for problematic areas on the site, such as large trees or rocks that are cost-prohibitive to move, poor soil in places, wetlands, and floodplains.
- Additional land may also be required surrounding the solar farm to serve as a buffer to adjacent properties and roads.