Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a solar farm?

A “solar farm” is a collection of interconnected solar panels that are strategically placed to maximize their ability to capture sunlight and convert it to electricity. Sunlight contains little packets of energy called photons. When photons from the sun reach the solar panels, it causes energy electrons within those panels to move and in turn create an electrical current.

The electric current is then sent to an inverter which converts it from DC to AC. That power is then pushed out from the solar site onto the transmission lines where the electricity is then distributed to households and businesses.

A solar farm is also sometimes called a solar project, solar power plant, solar ranch, or solar facility.

FAQs About Solar Farms

A “solar farm” is a collection of interconnected solar panels that are strategically placed to maximize their ability to capture sunlight and convert it to electricity. Sunlight contains little packets of energy called photons. When photons from the sun reach the solar panels, it causes energy electrons within those panels to move and in turn create an electrical current.

The electric current is then sent to an inverter which converts it from DC to AC. That power is then pushed out from the solar site onto the transmission lines where the electricity is then distributed to households and businesses.

A solar farm is also sometimes called a solar project, solar power plant, solar ranch, or solar facility.

Yes! The solar energy industry has grown by leaps and bounds since Silicon Ranch was founded in 2011, yet it is still a relatively new industry with a wide range of participants. What has become evident over this period is that not all solar companies are created and operate equally.

As the long-term owner and operator of every project we develop—a distinguishing characteristic of our business model—we are uniquely motivated to become active members of the communities where we locate for the life of the project. We’re here to help communities like yours build on their unique legacies while respecting local history and identity.

Utility-scale solar farms in the U.S. range in size from seven acres to over 4,000 acres.

Solar panel size varies by manufacturer. On average, solar panels for utility-scale projects are about 6 feet long by 4 feet wide.

Silicon Ranch uses a variety of terms for a solar project, including solar facility, solar ranch, and solar farm. “Solar farm” is a term that is commonly used in the industry to describe the way solar uses land and the sun to harvest a “crop” in the form of energy generation.

Land for a solar farm needs to be relatively flat, large enough to accommodate the required capacity to meet the needs of our customers, and near electrical infrastructure (such as a substation or transmission lines) that has capacity to accept more electricity. Of course, the current landowner must also be interested in selling the land. We choose properties that meet these requirements.

We aim to locate projects out of sight from homes, but sometimes it’s necessary to build a project within view of residences. We listen and respond to community input and work hard to ensure that our projects will not change the look or feel of the community. Use of setbacks and vegetative buffers can shield the project from view. Large solar projects have a low profile (8-15 feet from grade), similar to a greenhouse or single-story residence.

Utility-scale solar projects create construction jobs and increased business for local services such as hotels and restaurants. Solar projects also create high quality, long-term jobs for vegetation management and other operations and maintenance of the facility.

Silicon Ranch partners with or employs a diverse set of land managers, including ranchers and farmers, mowing partners, and agrivoltaic technicians recruited from rural communities.

We give a preference to the local labor pool and the military veteran community to fill these roles, further distributing the positive economic impact of our solar farm in your community.

Silicon Ranch’s solar projects require no capital investment from the community, local government, or the utility.

Silicon Ranch’s solar projects provide significant economic, social, and environmental benefits. Our projects provide a reliable and cost-effective source of energy that keeps energy prices low, benefiting utilities and their customers. Our capital investments support regional economic development and provide millions of dollars in new tax revenues that are additive to the local tax base because we require minimal community services in return. These new tax revenues support infrastructure, local schools, and other community-identified priorities, both immediately and for the long-term. Our projects also create new good-paying construction jobs that train workers for a long-term career in the fast growing solar industry, as well as long-term operations and land management jobs. 

Communities also benefit from our commitment to partnerships with schools. We make our solar farms available as “learning labs”, hosting field trips, and providing guest speakers.

Silicon Ranch’s regenerative approach to project design, construction, and operations, including land management, positively impacts the local community and beyond. We nurture the land using regenerative land management practices that promote long-term, deep-rooted vegetation, including pollinator habitat, and faster plant growth cycles. This approach heals degraded soils, improves ecosystem function, makes water cleaner and better regulated, reduces erosion and runoff, and increases biodiversity of both plants and wildlife.

Silicon Ranch maintains a commitment to own and operate every one of our solar projects for the long term. Since the company’s founding in 2011, Silicon Ranch has never sold a project, which means our neighbors can be confident that Silicon Ranch will stand behind the performance of each of our projects day in and day out as a long-term community member.

It is a common misconception that ground-mounted solar farms decrease nearby home values. Academic studies and appraisals examining sales prices of homes located in communities with solar farms in states across the U.S. show that utility-scale solar farms do not cause a decline in the value of neighboring properties, and in some cases may even have positive effects. Solar farms are clean, quiet, low traffic, and safe. They provide significant tax revenues that can improve school district scores and do not pollute water or air. Solar projects do not present factors that are typically associated with a negative impact on property values, including noisy infrastructure (e.g., traffic, trains, airports), polluting infrastructure (e.g., busy roads, airports, oil and gas extraction), and cemeteries or funeral homes.

Silicon Ranch uses thin film cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic solar panels. These panels are not hazardous and do not negatively impact soil or water or endanger human or animal health.

Thin film CdTe solar panels contain only materials in solid-state form, just like the electronic components in laptops and smartphones. These panels do not contain liquids that can leak. The thin layers of CdTe in these panels are stable and solid (high boiling point, low vapor pressure, low solubility) and are encapsulated between thick layers of glass. This encapsulation prevents CdTe from escaping into the surrounding environment, mixing with soil or water, or vaporizing into the air. Thin film CdTe solar panels are made of tempered glass and pass rigorous hail and other weather testing, as well as the U.S. EPA’s Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure test. This test is designed to assess the potential for long-term leaching of products disposed in landfills.

Cadmium telluride is not the same as the element cadmium (Cd), which is toxic, and cadmium telluride does not pose the risks that cadmium poses. In the presence of tellurium, cadmium forms a crystalline lattice that is highly stable. To draw a simple analogy, the properties of water (H2O) are not similar to those of hydrogen gas (H2) just because the two species both contain hydrogen. Just as it is improper to assume water can burn because hydrogen burns, it is invalid to treat cadmium telluride as if it poses the same risks as cadmium.

  • Exposure to EMF is a part of daily life, from home appliances and cell phones to electrical lines in our neighborhoods.
  • EMF research has been conducted since the 1950s. Since 1996, World Health Organization has taken the lead in studying health and EMF.
  • Despite extensive research, to date no studies have concluded that exposure to low level EMF is harmful to human health.¹ Electricity from solar panels and transmission to the power grid emit extremely low EMF levels.
  • The National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recommend avoiding long term exposure to EMF of 4 milligauss (mG) or higher
  • The typical EMF along the perimeter fencing of a solar project0.2 mG to 0.4 mG—is far lower than that found inside a typical home and well below the safe EMF of 4 mG

1. World Health Organization, International EMF Project | 2. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/National Institutes of Health

EMF Levels of Common Sources Graphic

No. There is no evidence of solar photovoltaic heat islands on well-vegetated solar farms. Fully vegetated solar farms reduce any potential heat island effects through the heat-dissipating effect of transpiration from foliage and because the vegetation lowers surface temperatures by providing shade.

No. Heat from photovoltaic solar panels does not harm birds or other wildlife. Silicon Ranch never uses thermal solar panels, which use mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays and have caused bird deaths.

There is only a 0.0003% chance of a solar PV system being involved in a fire.  While solar system fires are extremely rare, we take this risk very seriously and take every measure possible to reduce it as we design, build, and operate our solar farms.  

To bring this into perspective, the chance of a home structure fire is 800 times greater than the chance of a solar system fire. Despite the relatively high risk of a house fire, builders don’t stop building houses. Instead, they build in compliance with set standards for design and construction of buildings to reduce fire risk as much as possible.

Similarly, although a solar PV system fire is extremely rare, we design and build our projects to further reduce fire risk.

  • We build our facilities so that solar panels are a minimum of 24 inches above the ground, double the industry standard, giving a greater distance between modules and any vegetation that could catch fire.
  • We build with the strongest electrical cabling and cables with load-rated ties so that they are secure and don’t blow in the wind.
  • We reduce variability between electrical connectors and components (we refrain from mixing solar component brands at connection points) on a solar project because mixing brands can increase the likelihood of faults, which can cause a fire.

From natural gas to coal to solar, all parts of the energy sector receive some form of government support. These incentives enable new technologies to grow and scale to a point where they can compete on a level-playing field. In the case of solar, the only federal incentive is in the form of the Solar Investment Tax Credit.

Silicon Ranch uses the Solar Investment Tax Credit in our fully integrated business model. This helps enable us to develop, build, and operate projects for the long-term that require no up-front capital from customers or the communities where facilities are located. In fact, because Silicon Ranch becomes a property owner and taxpayer in each community where we site a project, our projects are a net positive for the local tax base of the surrounding community. Additionally, as solar is the lowest-cost form of new electricity generation, electricity customers benefit from the Investment Tax Credit through lower electricity rates.

FAQs Project Design

As a safety feature, a six-foot-tall chain link fence with barbed wire surrounds our solar facilities.

The height of the panels depends on the time of day, but generally, at their highest, panels are no more than ten feet high. The panels at many of our newer sites rotate to follow the sun throughout the day. At the beginning and end of the day, the solar panels will be at their highest as they will be angled 60 degrees. Around lunchtime, the panels will be at their lowest.

It depends on the project, but typically projects interconnect to existing transmission lines adjacent to the property.

The supporting structures that hold the modules are designed to withstand wind loads of 105-120 mph.

Some companies install solar panels on top of warehouses, commercial buildings, and homes. Silicon Ranch takes a different approach for a variety of reasons. First, location: utility-scale solar projects need to be near a viable transmission or distribution line to allow for connection to the electric grid and prevent needing long, expensive transmission lines. Additionally, consolidating the solar plant in a single location rather than distributing it across multiple locations allows for more efficient and effective connection to the grid. Second, size: Silicon Ranch aims to build utility-scale solar projects that require large areas to generate the amount of energy necessary to meet our customers’ needs. Large warehouses, which tend to be between 500,000 and 1,000,000 square feet (approximately 12 – 24 acres) are not typically large enough to meet these needs. Finally, not all existing buildings are designed or built to hold the structural load of a solar plant on the roof.

While some companies build solar plants on landfills, Silicon Ranch does not because building solar plants on landfills presents permitting and construction challenges, environmental challenges, such as avoiding damage to the landfill capping system, and engineering challenges, such as potential settlement of the landfill area that can lead to structural damage to the solar generating equipment.

We aim to deliver power into the communities that the power will serve. Each community has a range of siting options available, including both rooftop and ground mounted. In addition to considerations of location and viability, scale, and structural stability, cost is a significant consideration. Rooftop solar is by far the most expensive option for the installation of solar energy. Ground-mounted solar energy is the lowest cost form of new electricity generation in the U.S. today, and it is an important energy source for helping to keep rates low.

We take intentional steps in our facility design, operations, and land management to ensure that stormwater runoff from each site will be reduced or not increased from the conditions that exist when we buy the property.

Most of our projects are proposed at sites where the existing land is agricultural, wooded, or a combination of both. Once a solar plant is constructed, impervious surfaces (foundation pads, equipment, gravel roadways, etc.) cover a relatively minor amount of the land housing it. So, while solar panels will be installed on the land, the stormwater will flow off the panels and across the vegetation, allowing for the water to infiltrate and evaporate or be absorbed and replenish the aquifer. Moreover, our regenerative land management practices increase vegetative cover and build soil organic matter and looser soils, leading to more water infiltration, increased water retention, and less stormwater runoff.

The reduction in stormwater runoff peak flow improves downstream flooding issues. Existing natural resources (e.g., wetlands, ponds, streams, floodplains, etc.) and associated buffer areas are field identified, delineated, reviewed by the appropriate agencies, and marked during construction to be protected. In some circumstances, it may be necessary to temporarily or permanently impact a natural resource to facilitate a crossing location (e.g., access road-stream crossing). In these situations, we secure all necessary permits, and we implement associated mitigative measures.

Like other types of development, utility-scale solar projects are subject to federal, state, and local environmental requirements and we comply or go beyond compliance with all of these.

FAQs Construction

The number of jobs created depends on the project size. Regardless of project size, we maintain a strong preference for hiring locally and from the military veteran community.

Yes, we always prefer to hire qualified, local firms when possible.

Once a project is approved, our Project Delivery team will work with local partners, such as the chamber of commerce, to develop a plan to engage qualified, local firms and invite them to bid on the project. Make sure to go to the Contact Us page, scroll down the page to the Vendor section, and fill out the Contact form for Vendors. A project representative will get back to you with more details on available work and the timing of proposals. There are also periodic announcements regarding job fairs for local residents interested in working on these projects.

Silicon Ranch has a systematic approach to health and safety and is committed to the goal of zero recordable safety incidents. Accordingly, the team gives every consideration to safety and control measures as part of overall project design. In addition to 25+ years of environmental, health and safety experience, Silicon Ranch’s Director of Environmental, Health, Safety, and Security—Jim Barfield, CSP, CHST—has deep credentials to lead the company’s approach to safety. Along with qualifications that include BSCP certifications, FEMA incident command, accident investigation, and OSHA 30 qualifications, he is a veteran of the United States Army as a Health Specialist of Preventative Medicine. In that role, he educated personnel on pathogen exposure and disease and occupational illness prevention, enforced military regulations governing sanitary practice and industrial hygiene, and investigated and controlled sources of pathogen and toxin exposure both inside and outside of U.S. borders.

Our projects follow and adhere to all local, state, and federal regulations, including fencing, electric codes, and signage. Additionally, our projects monitored 24/7 so that any disturbance to the system can be quickly and safely acted upon.

Once construction commences, external to the site, we post appropriate warnings in traffic ways to alert drivers of impending truck entrances to the roadway. Internal to the site there are controls in place to regulate vehicles and heavy equipment on site.

The materials and components that comprise a solar energy generating facility are not hazardous to humans. Silicon Ranch prioritizes protection of the environment. 

There is some truck and trailer traffic during the construction of projects, including 18-wheelers delivering supplies during installation. Prior to and throughout construction, Silicon Ranch coordinates with the community to provide a more precise operation schedule. Once operational, our sites are remotely monitored and rarely visited except for periodic and routine maintenance. This is usually accomplished with 1-2 pickup trucks or vans, depending on the crew.

There is noise associated with the construction of projects, but Silicon Ranch seeks to minimize any potential disruption by limiting construction activities to normal business hours. Once operational, the sites do not generate appreciable noise. The inverters have a quiet hum when the plant is generating during daylight hours, but the noise is not audible beyond the property line. The inverters are typically located centrally on the project site, far enough away from neighboring houses to be imperceptible.

FAQs Operations

A solar farm is a collection of interconnected solar panels that are strategically placed to maximize their ability to capture sunlight and convert it to electricity. Sunlight contains little packets of energy called photons. When photons from the sun reach the solar panels, it causes energy electrons within those panels to move and in turn create an electrical current. That electric current is sent to an inverter, which converts it from DC to AC. This power is then pushed out from the solar site onto the transmission lines where the electricity is distributed to households and businesses.

Yes, our projects follow and adhere to all local, state, and federal regulations, including fencing, electric codes, and signage regulations. Additionally, Silicon Ranch projects are monitored 24/7 so that any disturbance to the system can be quickly and safely acted upon.

Once operational, our projects do not generate any noise that can be heard outside the facility fencing. The inverters have a quiet hum, not unlike that heard from a residential transformer, the small green electrical box in the neighborhood. Given compliance with required project setbacks from property boundaries and the location of the inverters within the fenced area of our projects the sounds from these projects are imperceptible.

Sound Decibel Graphic

Depending on the size of the project, a Silicon Ranch solar project typically creates one to nine long-term jobs.

Solar modules do not cause glare in the houses because modules are designed to absorb (rather than reflect) as much light as possible and are covered with a protective layer of anti-reflective matte glass.

We partner with or employ a diverse set of land managers, including ranchers and farmers, mowing partners, and agrivoltaic technicians recruited from rural communities.

FAQs Regenerative Energy

Our goal at Silicon Ranch is to leave the land better than when we initially find it.

During operation, we nurture the land using regenerative land management practices that promote long-term, deep-rooted vegetation, including pollinator habitat, and faster plant growth cycles. This approach, which we implement under our Regenerative Energy platform, not only multiplies the typical beneficial outcomes of a solar project but also creates new benefits. These include healing degraded soils, improving ecosystem function and water quality, decreasing erosion and runoff, and increasing biodiversity of both plants and wildlife, among others.

Regenerative Energy agrivoltaics is a subset of our Regenerative Energy platform that marries regenerative agriculture production with energy production.  Silicon Ranch debuted agrivoltaics to fulfill our commitment to being a good steward of the land in 2019 at our 121-acre Providence Solar Farm in Madison County, Tennessee. We returned the long-time conventional cotton and grain farm to agricultural production with the introduction of 500 sheep that are intentionally managed to heal the land, using the adaptive multi-paddock grazing approach.

Since then, we have expanded our use of Regenerative Energy agrivoltaics to thousands of acres and have become the committed owners of a large and growing flock of thousands of sheep that is restoring company-owned solar farmland. This endeavor provides regenerative land management training and full-time employment to staff from diverse backgrounds, including local community members, adults right out of high school, over the road truckers, a pharmacy technician, and a farmer, with joint goals of restoring company-owned land and allowing this and future generations to stay in their home communities.

The US Department of Energy defines agrivoltaics as any agricultural production among solar arrays. This can include solar combined with crop cultivation, aquaponics, pollinator habitat, or livestock production. Silicon Ranch’s form of agrivoltaics, through its Regenerative Energy platform, marries solar with pollinator habitat and livestock production.

No. We manage solar land across a range of ecoregions, each with its own climate, biodiversity, and soil type, and each piece of land with its own history. Each project’s ecoregion and the local cultural, environmental, and economic conditions will determine how we can nurture the land. Regardless of the how, we manage the land to promote long-term, deep-rooted vegetation and plant growth cycles (rather than abating vegetation), soil health, biodiversity, and habitat creation.

For instance, we cultivate regionally adapted grazing seed mixes, install wildlife habitat corridors, partner with regional organizations to create pollinator habitat and provide territory for endangered species, and create soft buffer areas between the solar array and surrounding lands to create an “edge effect.” This buffer attracts wildlife, improving biodiversity and nurturing the habitat that supports native pollinators and ground-nesting birds.

Yes. We evaluate ways to restore natural ecosystems and increase our positive impacts on our local communities at every project. We always promote deep-rooted, multi-species perennial vegetation to revitalize soil, restore ecosystems and biodiversity, sequester carbon from the atmosphere back in the soil where it belongs, and improve water quality at our ground-mounted projects.

No. Each project’s ecoregion and the local cultural, environmental, and economic conditions determine how we can nurture the land. At some sites, mowing is the most appropriate primary or secondary vegetation management tool. Regardless of whether or not we mow, we manage the land to promote long-term, deep-rooted vegetation and plant growth cycles (rather than abating vegetation), soil health, biodiversity, and habitat creation.

It depends. Our agricultural and regenerative ranching projects can be farmed by either local farmer partners or in-house agrivoltaic technicians.

At some projects, we partner with regenerative ranchers and local farmers to deliver full-service holistic land management, including adaptive multi-paddock grazing, that keeps the solar land in agricultural production and restores our project sites to functioning grassland ecosystems.

At other projects, our in-house agrivoltaic technicians manage the land. We recruit our agrivoltaic technicians primarily from rural communities and train them to help manage our lands regeneratively, including to use adaptive multi-paddock sheep grazing as the primary vegetation management tool and to restore grasslands. By employing and training agrivoltaic technicians, we are helping to build traditional jobs for the rural generation to come.

No. While Regenerative Energy does use native plants for dedicated pollinator habitat and visual buffers, generally, we cultivate introduced (non-native) grass and legume species or cultivars. Cultivating these plants serves multiple purposes – it reduces soil erosion, improves water quality, improves soil health, provides food and cover for wildlife, and, at our grazed sites, provides livestock grazing forage to improve animal nutrition and health and balances forage supply and demand during low forage production.

Maintaining the land regeneratively typically generates more jobs during the operations phase of a project than an average, conventionally maintained solar plant generates. We partner with or employ a diverse set of land managers, including ranchers and farmers, mowing partners, and agrivoltaic technicians recruited from rural communities.

Regenerative Energy is a win-win for jobs and local economies. It provides new economic opportunities to farmers and distributes positive impacts to the broader community, through more work for veterinarians, seed and equipment purchases, and other local procurements.

No. Responsible solar development can actually enhance wildlife habitat.

Silicon Ranch’s approach to land management has demonstrated that responsible solar development can improve wildlife habitat. Our holistic, regenerative approach increases the density and diversity of native plant species, creates pollinator habitat, and improves canopy coverage, leading to an increase in wildlife density and biodiversity.

For instance, we have seen a measurable increase in bobwhite quail populations at our Hazlehurst projects in Jeff Davis County, Georgia, where the previous regime of intensive tillage and herbicide use for cotton-peanut-corn farms damaged bobwhite quail populations over the past 80 years. With a transition to zero soil disturbance after construction, perennial vegetation, and properly timed mowing events, these solar projects create bird habitat where bobwhite quail and other wildlife thrive. These healthy populations then spill over into adjacent hunting properties, where neighbors share in the benefit of this work.

We third-party monitor, quantify, and verify ecological outcomes of Regenerative Energy® at select projects, including biodiversity, habitat creation, and ecosystem function, through application of the Savory Institute’s Ecological Outcome Verification assessment methodology. Our projects are the first ever and only solar energy projects located on land that is verified as trending ‘regenerative’ by the Savory Institute.

Silicon Ranch takes wildlife habitat very seriously, and our investment in sanctuaries, wildlife corridors, and ecological monitoring are testament to this.

Silicon Ranch aims to refrain from the use of any pesticides at our projects, unless required by state law where a project is located to mitigate noxious weeds determined injurious to agricultural or horticultural crops or, in some instances, to prevent small targeted amounts of vegetation from growing up into equipment that would interfere with solar generation and impede the facility’s ability to deliver power to serve homes and businesses in the long-term. When circumstances require that we use pesticides, Silicon Ranch is committed to minimizing their use, meaning that we only spot spray EPA approved herbicides—which are commonly used on timber farms—when required. We never broadcast spray herbicides or pesticides. 

We recognize that our responsibility as a good neighbor doesn’t stop at our fence line. Rather than viewing the land housing our solar projects as a liability, we recognize that land and vegetation are valuable natural resources and biological assets. When land and vegetation are managed properly, and in alignment with natural systems, we can revitalize soils, restore grassland ecosystems, increase biodiversity, sequester carbon, improve water quality, and build better solar facilities. Ultimately, through our Regenerative Energy approach, our goal is to leave the land better than we found it.

We know Regenerative Energy is working not only because we can see its positive impacts but also because we monitor, quantify, and verify ecological outcomes of our regenerative land management practices. The outcomes we verify include soil health, biodiversity, habitat creation, water infiltration, and ecosystem function. We verify through application of the Savory Institute’s Ecological Outcome Verification assessment methodology. This methodology is a tool for continuous improvement that measures the health of the land as a living system. It was developed in collaboration with leading soil scientists, ecologists, agronomists, and an extensive network of regenerative land managers around the world.

Regenerative Energy® projects are the first ever solar energy projects located on land that has been verified as ‘regenerative’ by the Savory Institute.

We contract with qualified third parties to test soil for a variety purposes, including ecological monitoring, soil carbon sequestration monitoring, and geotechnical testing. Savory Institute Ecological Outcome Verification Professional Monitors take soil samples and conduct our short- and long-term ecological monitoring.  We measure and third-party verify our ecological outcomes using the Savory Institute’s Land to Market Ecological Outcome Verification assessment methodology, which was developed in collaboration with leading soil scientists, ecologists, agronomists, and an extensive network of regenerative land managers around the world. This methodology measures the health of the land as a living system.  Our projects are the first ever and only solar energy projects located on land that is verified as trending ‘regenerative’ by the Savory Institute.

If we conduct a formal soil carbon project at a site, we contract with Earth Optics to measure soil carbon.

Soil from every project is also tested at four laboratories, including one for agriculture analysis, during our Geotechnical testing prior to construction.

FAQs Battery Storage

Solar facilities generate power throughout the day, with peak production during midday hours when the sun energy is at its highest. Peak production of electricity and peak demand for electricity often don’t happen at the same time. The battery energy storage system (BESS) allows solar electricity to be stored to meet those peak demand hours. Additionally, when houses or businesses need more electricity than the system is producing, the electricity stored in the battery system meets that need. A BESS can provide a range of benefits beyond this to help optimize both the solar plant and the utility grid to allow the consumer to have a more flexible and reliable source of energy.

Yes, battery systems have no direct emissions and can also help cut emissions as the solar and storage facilities are replacing traditional energy generation sources that emit pollutants. And unlike lead acid batteries like those in our cars, these batteries are of a dry type that presents no risk of leakage into the soil.

The majority of a BESS facility is comprised of metal enclosures (similar to shipping containers) that are 40’ long, 8’ wide, and approximately 8’ tall. These enclosures are spaced approximately 15’ apart to allow for installation and maintenance. The remaining equipment consists of inverters and transformers that are nearly identical to those used for the solar facility.

The BESS is connected to the transmission system (and the solar project) via a transformer. Downstream of the transformer is a central inverter that converts the alternating current (AC) power from the grid to direct current (DC) power and vice versa. Current flows from the solar plant through the BESS inverter to charge the batteries, and then is discharged back through the inverter and to the grid to supply power when needed.

Yes, our BESS projects follow and adhere to all local, state, and federal regulations, including fencing, electric codes, and signage.

There have been several notable battery fire incidents over the past five years including those from high profile cell phone and electric vehicle manufacturers. There was also a battery fire at a utility BESS facility in Arizona. In these cases, a more volatile battery chemistry called nickel manganese cobalt was being used.

Our BESS projects use a battery chemistry called lithium iron phosphate, which does not have the volatile elements that led to the nickel manganese cobalt fires and has also been designed to fire and safety standards that were developed as a result of the previous fire incidents.

While there is a risk of fire with any technology that generates, transports, or stores energy, the design, testing, and analysis that are performed as part of our project development ensure our systems will operate safely.

While our solar facilities are designed for a 40-year project life, battery technology degrades and is only useful for 20 years. After that time, BESS facilities will either be repowered with newer battery technology or will be decommissioned with all components removed and the ground stabilized. In either case, the batteries will be removed, packaged, and shipped to a recycling facility for proper disposal and re-use.

FAQs Decommissioning, Recycling, and Reuse​

Our solar projects are designed with reliability and the highest performance in mind over their 40-year useful lifetimes. This 40-year view means we design the entire plant and select equipment to last at least 40 years. Unlike some developers who may focus more on meeting minimum design criteria to reduce short-term costs, Silicon Ranch places more emphasis on reliability and the requirements of long-term ownership.

At the end of 40 years, our projects will either be repowered with new solar equipment or decommissioned. If a project is decommissioned, all system components will be removed, and the ground will be stabilized. All costs associated with the decommissioning process will be the responsibility of Silicon Ranch, not the community or local government. As Silicon Ranch will continue to own the property and will remain a member of the community, we are invested in ensuring that decommissioning will occur safely and responsibly, and that the site is in excellent condition.

Silicon Ranch purchases solar panels for our projects with end-of-life in mind and we seek the most cost-effective and environmentally responsible path for recycling modules at their end of life.

We are committed to leading industry advancements in responsible management of end-of-life solar equipment. Our commitment goes beyond recycling to repurposing, reusing, and fueling domestic manufacturing of solar panels for a circular solar economy.

To process-end-of life solar modules from Silicon Ranch projects, we have partnered with two pioneers in U.S.-based solar industry panel recycling: SOLARCYCLE, which offers an advanced platform that recovers approximately 95% of the value of solar panel materials, including glass and aluminum, as well as silicon, silver, copper, and aluminum, and First Solar, which recovers approximately 90 percent of materials. Recovered module materials are returned to the solar supply chain to help fuel the growing U.S. solar manufacturing industry with a domestic supply of materials essential to the production of new solar panels. For instance, recovered aluminum from the aluminum panel frames will be used to make aluminum frames for new solar panels.

Our industry leading recycling partnerships support our commitments to advance domestic solar manufacturing, a circular solar economy that reduces material use and recaptures “waste” as a resource to manufacture new panels, and economic development opportunities in communities across the country.

The remaining part of the panel materials, which are made of plastics, do not have much value. SOLARCYCLE is committed to zero waste, however, and the company has found off-takers who will use the plastic for secondary applications to avoid sending panel materials to a landfill.