Landowners listen closely!
Australia’s solar industry is growing fast. Some estimates predict that by 2030 47.56% of Australia’s power capacity will be solar-based . And for anyone who knows how much sun Australia gets, this is a no brainer.
Not only is Australia blessed with plenty of sunny days, but it’s also covered in large tracts of privately owned land – perfect for buffing medium to large scale solar farms. Chances are you’re a landowner or a company looking to lease your land for exactly this purpose. Here’s a breakdown of some of the things you should be considering before you sign on the dotted line.
Why invest in solar projects anyway?
With 32.5 per cent of Australia’s total electricity generation in 2021 coming from renewable energy sources, large, medium and small scale solar are leading the way accounting for 38.27% of Australia’s total renewable energy generation . This is only set to grow and along with it the demand for space to build such large solar projects.
Not only does this represent an interesting business opportunity, but it can also help local communities make the transition from fossil fuels to renewables quicker. This has a positive impact on local communities, not to mention the surrounding environment.
Alright, let’s take a closer look.
What can I expect from a solar developer?
You can expect a fair bit from a solar developer who is interested in your land to build or expand an existing renewable energy project. In many ways, trust-building is a key aspect of this relationship. Aside from being a good communicator, you should also expect them to be:
- Open and transparent about the process
- Ready to speak to you personally about your concerns
- Clear about what risks exist – both financially, and otherwise
- Prioritising their relationship with you
- Ready to build a fruitful business relationship
Make the most of on-site visits
When a potential solar operator comes to visit your land in person, it is a great opportunity to ask any questions you have about the process and get familiar with their style of communication. You might find they have some detailed questions for you about the location, the terrain and other site-specific factors.
Don’t feel like you need to rush these visits. They will want to get to know you, and vice versa. After all, this is a serious business venture and a big decision on both sides. Remember it’s important to develop trust from the start. The more trust there is, the less chance of misunderstanding down the road.
Ask developers about previous projects
When you’re in the pre-deal stage, and talking to different companies, it’s good to keep them on their toes when it comes to their previous work and standards. Ask them about what projects they’ve done in the past and who they’ve worked with.
See which solar powered farm equipment suppliers they’ve worked with and inquire as to what solar farm equipment they plan to use. You’ll know how serious and trustworthy they are based on the number and quality of previous projects undertaken.
Don’t feel pressured into signing a deal
The search for suitable land is on, and companies can be very good at pressuring landowners into getting what they want. It’s good to listen carefully and read between the lines.
The worst-case scenario is a misunderstanding between the developer and you, that could result in a no-deal, or worse, legal action over a breach of contract.
If you don’t feel comfortable or feel like you’re being pressured at any point, you can always say thanks and goodbye, or hire a lawyer to make sure you’re not being manipulated into anything unreasonable.
Understand how solar farms may interfere with your existing operations
Land-uses across Australia are as numerous as they are diverse. Solar energy generation is only one of many possible land-uses that will complement future landscapes across the country. Aside from renewable energies, solar farms will be competing for space with growing agricultural land-uses as well as existing agricultural operations.
While solar farms are completely compatible with most farming practices, it’s important that you understand all the ways in which solar power generation may impact your land.
Understand your obligations as a landowner
Depending on the size and nature of the solar project, you will want to understand the kinds of obligations that will be placed on you once the contract is signed. As a landowner, you shouldn’t need to take care of much, perhaps a few maintenance or administrative issues here and there. Generally, however, solar farm developers will take care of the day-in-day-out operations and ensure the land is safe and intact.
Get to know more about what’s involved with building a solar farm with your local solar farm equipment supplier.