By Bill Frazer
I noticed in the LaFayette Sun this week that construction of the proposed solar farm located on the south of the LaFayette city limits is to begin within the next few weeks. In checking the option that is recorded in the Chambers County Courthouse, TORBERT FAMILY LANDS LLC (Owner) and AL SOLAR A, LLC and THE CHAMBERS COUNTY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (Purchaser) has until March 31, 2017 to finalize the sale.
The terms of the sale is that the landowner would be paid $2,500 per acre for the estimated 1,225 acres described in the option plus rights to any merchantable timber still standing on the acres to purchased.
AL SOLAR A LLC has stated that they will have a capital investment from $100 million up to $140 million dollars in developing the farm. Calculating that it would take 2.5 acres to supply enough electricity to a 1,000 homes, the potential of the farm would supply 480,000 homes.
AL SOLAR A has a corporate agreement with Alabama Power Company and Walmart to share in the energy produced by the farm. Any solar farm has to have the power lines to send the energy generated by the solar panels to the power grid network. The LaFayette location is ideal as most of the land to be purchased lies under Alabama Power Company high tension lines. It appears that Walmart will purchase most of the power produced by the solar farms and they will get a 30% tax credit.
Alabama Power Company has encountered considerable criticism of late for failure to develop environmental clean energy. The other members of the Southern Company which includes GA Power, Fla. Power and Miss. Power have been active in developing solar panels. The LaFayette Solar Farm appears to be the first effort by AL Power to join the environmental friendly energy group.
I wonder why AL SOLAR A, LLC (Orgis Energy) is the company putting up the money to develop the LaFayette Solar Farm? AL SOLAR A , LLC is a foreign company. I am told that it has something to do with the USD versus EURO on return on investments. I agree with President Trump, since the tax payers are subsidizing the project, why do we not have a US Investor furnishing the funds?
Also, it bothers me that all of the solar panels are made out of country and only assembled in the US. On line data states that a
minimum of 950 of these panels are installed per acre on solar farms. On the LaFayette 1200 acre farm, 1,140,000 of these panels would be placed in the pattern. The estimated cost of the panels plus installation is projected to be $500,000 per acre.
I thought that the solar farm could be used as a pasture or other farm use. It turns out that this is not the case due to the fact that the panels do not allow grazing underneath and the wiring network is vulnerable to damage.
People are familiar with maintaining solar farms say that they mow the acreage and sometimes have to resort to chemical spray. Low lying land such as along creeks and branches are not suitable for panel installation. In some instances washing the panels is needed but generally the rain keeps the panels free of dust that blocks the sun rays.
One thing that I learned about solar panels, it is not feasible to store the sunlight-generated energy. It has to be transmitted through the grid network to the consumers. Since there has to a constant source of power to any of the users of electricity, either solar, water or gas generated power has to be on line when the sun is not shining such as night time, cloudy or foggy days. It is estimated that in the south no significant solar power is generated at least 40% of the year.
Solar power is generated as Direct Current and the energy has to go to a inverter to be converted to Alternating Current. This requires a inverter for every 1,000+- panels on site to distribute the power to the power grid network.
There is no doubt that solar power is a plus for the environment. However, until it becomes a favorable return to the investor in solar farms, it will continue to be questionable as to the justification of building solar farms. This is especially true since the tax payers are having to pay to cover the losses.
Germany is the country with the most use of energy from solar farms. Solar farms are popular in all of the European countries.