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Statistics show that about 50% of all greenhouse energy emissions in New Zealand come from the agricultural sector. With the world increasingly pushing for green energy adoption, farms have to lead the race towards making things right with Mother Nature. [1]

One way to do this is by going for solar power, which is estimated to make between 1-6% of total electricity consumption in New Zealand come 2035. But why is it a great idea for your farm? [2]

Benefits of Solar Power for Farms

Here are some of the advantages of adopting solar power in your farm:

Saving on Everyday Farm Expenses

Think about it: you get to slash your electricity bill for powering lights in barns, greenhouses, dairy sheds and storage sheds. Beyond lighting, if your farm uses electric irrigation pumps, milking equipment or shearing machinery, solar can bring substantial savings.

Turning Your Sunshine into Income

Many New Zealand power companies offer generous feed-in tariffs, meaning you can get paid for excess electricity your solar panels generate during the day. This can be a great way to earn extra income, especially during the long summer months when farms tend to use less power.

Insulation from Price Fluctuations

Electricity prices can be unpredictable. By generating your own clean power, you become less reliant on the grid and its fluctuating costs. This provides greater control over your farm's energy budget and protects you from unexpected price hikes.

Boosting Farm Security and Self-Sufficiency

With a properly sized system and battery storage (optional), you can ensure a reliable power source even during grid outages. This comes in handy for maintaining critical operations like milking or irrigation during unexpected power cuts.


A new approach called agrivoltaics is gaining traction. Here, solar panels are strategically placed on farms, allowing for sheep or cattle grazing underneath. This innovative practice maximises land use while potentially improving crop yields due to partial shade and reduced wind exposure.

Costs of Solar Power for Farms

Solar power systems can, indeed, make a huge difference. But they also come with costs you should be privy to.

Upfront Investment

Here's a breakdown of the key cost factors:

System Design and Engineering

A qualified solar installer will assess your farm's energy needs, sun exposure and available space. This helps design a system that meets your specific requirements.

Solar Panel System Cost

The cost of solar panels themselves varies depending on size, efficiency and brand. Consult the experts to make sure you get the right fit for your farm.

Installation Costs

These include labour and equipment for mounting the panels, wiring and connecting the system to the grid. Installation costs typically run 20-30% of the total system price.

Ongoing Costs

Once your solar system is up and running, there are some ongoing expenses to consider:

Maintenance and Repairs

Regular maintenance (usually annual cleaning) is essential for optimal performance. Minor repairs may also be needed occasionally. Budget accordingly.

Initial Investment and Long-Term View

The upfront cost of a solar system is a significant investment (which government funding programs like the Green Investment Fund can help offset, by the way). However, don't just focus on the initial cost. You also get long-term savings on your electricity bill and a potentially maintenance-free 20-30 years of solar power. [3]

Making the Numbers Work

Before going solar, a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) helps you understand the financial feasibility for your farm. Here's what to consider:

Farm Size and Energy Consumption

Larger farms with higher electricity needs are likely to see a faster return on investment (ROI) from solar. Knowing your current annual electricity consumption (kWh) can go a long way.

Sun Exposure and Roof Suitability

Solar panels require good sunlight exposure for optimal generation. Analyse your farm's layout and identify areas with maximum sun throughout the day.

Electricity Price Trends

Consider projected electricity price increases in New Zealand. The potential for future savings due to lower reliance on the grid can enhance the attractiveness of solar power.

Payback Period

This is the estimated time it takes for your solar energy savings to offset the initial investment cost. A shorter payback period indicates a quicker return on investment.

Projecting Electricity Savings

By combining your energy consumption data with information on solar panel efficiency and average sunlight hours in your region, you can project how much electricity your solar system could generate. This projected reduction in grid reliance translates into estimated electricity cost savings, a crucial factor in your cost-benefit analysis.

Ready to Power Your Farm?

Convinced about the power of the sun on your farm? Great. Reach out to us at World Solar, the leading expert in all things solar power for farms and businesses, to get started. Let us show you how solar power can transform your farm today and many years down the road.

solarpanels in field