Farmers and landowners are urged to secure rental agreements as large-scale solar power projects are set to make a comeback as costs decline.
Demand for large-scale solar is set for a revival, with developers returning to the market after three years of impasse.
In 2015 the Government announced the end of the Feed in Tariff and Renewable Obligation incentives, which had a negative impact on the solar market.
Since then, the renewables industry has been waiting for a time when the cost of solar technology has reduced sufficiently to make further schemes worthwhile.
Solar costs have since reduced by 20-30% a year, at the same time as wholesale energy prices have soared by nearly 60% - which means developers are back in the market.
According to independent power consultant Roadnight Taylor: “Solar operators are starting to secure power purchase agreements with large corporate organisations like Amazon and Google, which have committed to using 100% renewable energy.
“These operators anticipate the first schemes to be built in 2019, with the pace picking up into 2021 and 2022.”
Ideal solar land
This means developers are already on the lookout for suitable sites. Typically, these will be upwards of 40 acres, relatively flat and in an area of good solar irradiation, Mr Taylor explained.
Importantly, they will also be in an area with good grid connection capacity remaining. “Ground rents will vary considerably depending on the site, but offers can exceed £150,000 a year for a 25-year lease for larger schemes,” he said.
However, Mr Taylor has urged farmers and landowners to act fast a 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 a good site you need to secure that capacity for yourself before someone gets in first,” he said.