Large-scale solar makes comeback & presents income opportunities for landowners

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As solar technology costs decline and energy prices increase, the large-scale solar market is returning. Large-scale solar, located with or without batteries, can offer landowners with the right sites a strong diversification income if they act quickly. 

According to independent power and energy consultancy Roadnight Taylor, demand for large-scale solar is set for revival, with developers returning to the market after a period of impasse. 

“In 2015 the Government announced the end of the Feed in Tariff and Renewable Obligation incentives, which killed the large-scale solar market,” explains chief executive Hugh Taylor. “Since then, the renewables industry has been waiting for the crucial time when the cost of solar technology has reduced sufficiently to combine with wholesale costs of power increasing enough to make large-scale solar schemes viable in a zero-subsidy world.”

The costs of solar technology have reduced 20-30% a year and are projected to substantially lower over the next few years. The wholesale prices for electricity have also soared by nearly 60%.  In addition, in recent months, developer-operators of large-scale solar farms are seeing a strong market for Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (cPPAs) from large organisations committing to using 100% renewable energy. 

These factors all give solar farm developers the confidence to invest in new schemes. 

Mr Taylor says, “Developers are on the lookout for suitable sites, and for landowners with the right sites this could mean a reliable long-term income. Typically, sites will be over 40 acres, relatively flat and in an area of good solar radiation. Importantly, they will also be in an area with good grid connection and with spare capacity.”

“This summer we have seen ground rent offers for solar of more than £150,000 per year, for larger sites, with leases generally for 25+ years. But rental values will vary considerably depending on many site factors, not least of which are planning prospects, topography and grid connection costs.”

However, it is important that landowners act fast because grid capacity is severely limited. “If there is capacity on your part of the network it will only be enough for one scheme. If you’ve got the right site, you need to secure that capacity for yourself before someone gets in first.”

To get the best deal, it’s also vital to act independently from a developer, warns Mr Taylor. “Getting professional, independent advice to identify suitable viable sites with appropriate grid capacity quickly will put you in the driving seat to negotiate with the best developers and get the best terms available.”

“Our ‘Stop-Go’ study costs from £350 and assesses whether a site has true potential for solar, battery storage or gas genset schemes. We will advise the most suitable technology for the local grid and the one which offers the landowner the greatest income potential.

“If a site has potential, we can prepare, submit and manage a grid application for the appropriate technology on a no-win no-fee basis and market your site to multiple developers.”

For more information contact Roadnight Taylor on info@roadnighttaylor.co.uk, call 01993 830571 or visit www.roadnighttaylor.co.uk