Harness the Sun’s Power With a Solar Farm: Here’s How Much It Costs to Build

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated May 13, 2022
Construction worker installing solar panels
Photo: Lourdes Balduque / Moment / Getty Images


  • Solar farms typically cost over $1 million per megawatt.

  • Building a solar farm involves starting a business.

  • Most solar farms are for community or utility-scale use.

  • Solar farms can power hundreds or even thousands of homes.

  • You can lease your land for solar developments to earn a small annual income.

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If you live on a large plot of land, you might consider building out a solar farm as a new business venture. Aside from generating clean energy for your own property, you can sell energy to local households who buy into a community solar program. Building a large solar farm costs about $800,000 to $1.36 million for one megawatt of power, although utility-scale solar farms can cost millions. By acreage, building a solar farm typically costs between $400,000 and $500,000 per acre. The upfront cost may seem high, but the operation will reduce your energy bills and even earn you a profit by selling extra clean energy to the grid. Here’s what to know.

Cost to Install a Solar Farm

Cost by WattCost by AcreCost by Megawatt
$0.80–$1.36 $400,000–$500,000$800,000–$1 million+

Installing a solar farms will cost about $0.80 to $1.36 per watt. Solar farm costs can be estimated by energy output (megawatts) or size (acres). One megawatt is the power equal to 1 million watts, and one megawatt will power about 164 homes.

Community Solar Farms

Community solar farms offer higher energy output than simply installing solar panels on your rooftop. Solar farms are also more cost-effect, as they run between $0.80 to $1.36 per watt, as residential solar installations cost about $2.50 to $3.50 per watt. These large-scale projects usually provide 5 megawatts or less, and a megawatt can power an average of 164 homes.

Utility-Scale Solar Farms

As governments work toward a more sustainable energy future, utility-scale solar farms become more commonplace to power hundreds or thousands of homes. Utility-scale solar farms may span 1 megawatt to 2,000 megawatts.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Solar Farm per Acre?

Solar farms cost about $450,000 per acre, although prices can vary depending on your location. For a 1 megawatt solar farm, you’d need around six to eight acres of land. Depending on your project, it may be more cost-efficient to pay for a project by energy output rather than acreage.

Solar Farm Cost Breakdown

Solar farms are not a residential project for the average homeowner. Instead, installing a solar farm becomes a larger-scale business that can require a high upfront investment.


A solar farm has many components, from the panels themselves to the batteries that store the energy.

  • Solar panels

  • Racks to hold panels

  • Foundations for the racks

  • Inverters

  • Cables and connectors

  • Additional equipment to connect the solar plant to the grid and for battery storage

  • Monitoring systems

  • Security equipment, including fences and cameras


Installation will make up about 10% of the project cost for starting a solar farm. But in addition to having construction and solar companies develop the land and install the panels, you’ll need to hire people to maintain the grounds to prevent plants from growing over the panels and to clean to solar panels for efficiency.

Cost to Install a Solar Farm Yourself

Solar panels system
Photo: Visoot Uthairam / Moment / Getty Images

You’ll need to work with a solar panel company and your local, state, and/or federal governments and utility companies in order to install a solar farm. This massive project is not something that can be done alone, and it will require planning permissions and professional installation. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the process to develop a solar farm is lengthy and requires certifications, project proposals, and purchase agreements, just to name a few. You’ll be required to set up a business and purchase insurance for your solar farm as well.

Tips to Reduce Costs for a Solar Farm

Most solar farms are designed for community or utility use, as these massive areas of solar panels will supply enough energy to power many households. If you want to build a solar farm on your land, you’ll want to find local homeowners who are interested in purchasing power from your community solar project to offset the cost of installing and maintaining a solar farm. You can also apply for federal and state government incentives to offset the cost of starting a solar farm.

Expect to earn about $14,000 to $40,000 per year for each megawatt of power from your community solar farm. Plus, your own household can save up to 15% of annual electricity costs with solar power.

Instead of building your own solar farm, another option is to provide your land to lease for a solar project. This will generate a passive income, where you can earn around $300 to $2,000 per acre each year by providing your land for another developer to install and manage the solar farm.

Solar Farm Questions and Answers

What’s the difference between rooftop solar panels and a solar farm?

Rooftop solar panels supply energy to a single household, where a solar farm can power multiple homes at once with clean energy. Residential rooftop solar panels cost more per watt with a lower project total, but that cost is typically covered by just the household. With a solar farm, multiple households can buy into the project and share the overall cost.

Can I buy into a community solar farm instead of building my own?

You don’t have to build you own solar farm to reap the benefits of clean energy. In the U.S., there are 41 states with at least one community solar farm. EnergySage has a tool allows you to find community solar projects near you.

How much will I save with a solar farm?

Homeowners who use solar power can save 5% to 15% on their energy bills per year. If you own a community solar farm, it can generate about $14,000 to $40,000 per megawatt annually. Leasing your land for someone else to develop a solar farm will earn you up to $2,000 per acre, per year.

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