Webinar Series to Advise on Whether Solar Panels are a Smart Investment

Photovoltaic (PV) panels are an increasingly common sight on rural properties nationwide. (Photo: Thinkstock)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ever consider solar panels to power your farm?

Beginning in January, a six-part series of webinars will inform participants about Photovoltaic (PV) panels that convert sunlight into electricity and are installed on a roof or placed on the ground.

The price of installing a PV solar system on a farm ranges from $22,900 for a small 10-kilowatt system to $114,500 for a large 50-kilowatt system.

“This has the potential to work for your farm,” said Eric Romich, statewide energy specialist for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

Romich will be teaching the webinars with John Hay, an educator with University of Nebraska Extension. The event is hosted by Michigan State University Extension.

The webinars are aimed at helping farmers make informed decisions about whether to purchase solar panels.

“I’m not here to sell a system,” Romich said. “My role is to help farmers understand what type of financial return, if any, they’ll have on an investment in solar panels.”

This might be a good time to consider solar panels because they’ve gone down in price in recent years. The average price for the installation a commercial PV system, has dropped from $5.36 per watt (direct current) in 2010  to $1.85 per watt in 2017, according to a U.S. Department of Energy report.

Purchasing a PV solar energy system is a major investment that would influence the future profitability of a farm or ranch, so it’s important for anyone who is considering buying one to examine the costs and potential savings, Romich said. Participants in the seminar will get assistance in using a federal mathematical model that considers electric production and financial assumptions to forecast potential cash savings over 25 years. That can help determine if solar panels are a smart investment for them.

“To increase a farm’s profitability, you need to explore strategies to control or decrease your expenses,” Romich said.  

With farms using more and more electricity, it makes sense to evaluate whether electricity can be replaced with solar power, he said.

In Ohio, 2,456 businesses or residents are getting at least part of their electricity through PV panels.

The webinar is based on the Solar Electric Investment Analysis Bulletin Series.

The webinars are once a week starting Jan. 18 through Feb. 22. Each of the six webinars starts at 7 p.m. EST and is 60 minutes long. Time for question and answers is included in each session. Registration fee is $10 per session or $40 for all six sessions.

Registration information can be found at:

For more information, contact Charles Gould at 616-994-4547 or gouldm@msu.edu.


CFAES News Team
For more information, contact: 

Eric Romich