Independent farming is an increasingly difficult way to earn a living. In 2018, the harvest price for corn was 7% below the projected price per bushel, and this decline is not out of the ordinary. From 1972 to 2017, 49% of the years saw declines greater than 7%.
It is pertinent to mention here that government subsidies and federal laws are artificially propping up many agricultural markets in the US. In particular, the market for corn, the largest agricultural crop in the United States, is backed by a long history of subsidies and federal laws, including laws that require nearly all US gasoline to contain 10% ethanol, nearly all of which comes from corn.
Do you know? US farmers plant around 140,000 square miles of corn every year, 30% of which is used to produce ethanol. Between 1978 and 2018, the ethanol industry received a variety of subsidies totaling $86 billion dollars. The same is much more than the subsidies received by both the solar and wind industry combined.
Despite all this government support, ethanol made from corn is often a money-losing proposition for farmers. It is also one of the least efficient ways to generate energy. So, what if American corn farmers replaced their fields with solar farms?
You may think, Solar farms here seem out of context! But wait, read further…
Bill Nussey, CEO of Freeing Energy and CEO Solar Inventions in his book namely Freeing Energy has opined that solar panels on an acre of land produce far more energy than corn (via ethanol)
If you compare the energy utility of an acre of solar panels to an acre of corn, the acre of solar wins by a landslide.
Each year, one acre of corn produces 551 gallons of ethanol, which is the equivalent of 386 gallons of gas. Using the average miles per gallon of a US automobile, this equates to 9,691 miles driven per acre of corn per year.
Whereas In Iowa for example, an acre of land with solar panels produces 198,870kWh each year. A typical EV drives approximately 3.6 miles per kWh. So, each year, an acre of solar panels produces enough energy for an EV to drive 710,250 miles. This is over 70 times the distance the same acre producing corn could provide.
Unlike ethanol, an acre of solar can power anything attached to the grid. The same Iowa acre, for instance, could also be used to provide 18 average US homes with electricity for the year.
The financial utility of replacing corn with solar also promises huge gains for farmers. For example, it is not uncommon for a farmer to make two to three times more money per acre leasing to solar rather than planting corn.
Solar guarantees a steady stream of revenue, unlike corn which stands the risk of crop failure due to extremely bad weather and price volatility.
When farmers lease their land for solar energy production, they do not have to worry about renegotiating a land lease or finding a new tenant every couple of years.
In addition, the value of the land is not jeopardized by changes in global agricultural markets, policy, or extreme weather. For the farmer, the land can become a self-sustaining, highly predictable source of income for decades.
For big families, the solar project is giving them a chance to build for the future and also preserve their past.
In many families, the current generation is not interested in farming. However, since their parents have rented the farmland for a solar power project it’d be a good way to keep the family land for the next generations and a steady income source for years to come.
In many cases, you are saving the family farm, because you have just leased the land. You are getting it back after 30 years, and you are going to be in a much stronger financial position.
So why wait? Solar leasing promises huge financial gains to farmers who would otherwise be at the mercy of volatile agricultural markets.
Contact State Solar for more information. Dial +1 (408) 780-2889