Should I sign an option for a solar farm on my land?

If you have a good site for a solar farm or solar park, there are several ways in which you can benefit - the main alternatives are shown here.

One of the options is to lease the land to a third party project developer, who will construct the solar park, receive the income from the tariffs and pay you a rent for the land as described here.

There are now many project developers scouring the country for good sites and trying to sign option agreements with the landowners. These usually prevent the landowner from dealing with any other developers for a period of time. Before signing such an agreement, the owner should satisfy himself that the developer has a commitment to complete the project.

In what is known as a 'land grab', some developers are closing as many option agreements as they can, to keep their competitors out. They may then cherry-pick the best ones to pursue and others could get sidelined. The problem from the landowner's perspective therefore may be that his land is locked up and can't be developed by anyone else (at least for a few months until the tariffs go down, and the project is no longer viable).

For this reason, we advise landowners whenever they can to take the project to planning consent themselves. If they then want to pursue a land lease option they can sign an agreement which obliges the developer to complete the project. Once they have consent, landowners can also pursue other options where they keep a share of the project.

This does commit the landowner to some initial cost (and Ownergy often offers terms to share part of this). But if the project is later sold to a third party developer, these costs can be recovered (at a profit).

What’s the difference between a co-developer and a normal project developer?

A co-developer is an expert company, which works with a site owner or energy user to realise a renewable energy project. Normal project developers aim to install the project as principal, and may rent the land from the owner and/or provide electricity to local users.

In a co-development the project owner will retain most of the revenues generated from the Feed-In Tariffs. A normal project developer would keep all this benefit, and pay a modest rent to the landowner.

Does solar energy work on a dull day?

Briefly, yes!

The output of both solar electric and solar thermal panels is related to the level of radiation falling on them. Obviously the sunnier it is the better, but they will give some output whenever there is some level of solar radiation (i.e. except at night).

In the case of solar electric (PV) systems, the output is proportional to the level of light (not heat) on the panels. They are receptive to a broad spectrum of light so will produce power throughtout daylight hours. They are actually slightly more efficient at lower temperatures.

Solar thermal panels respond more to radiation at the infra-red (heat) end of the spectrum.

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