5 Things Developers Look for When Assessing Land for Solar Systems

Here is a short checklist to help you find out.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation has become incredibly economical in the last ten years. So much so that hosting a large solar system installation on your property is an excellent way to generate stable, long-term income. So now all that’s left is to contact a reputable developer who can build a big project and wait for the cash to roll in, right? Well, not quite. Viability of a project is what drives this entire process. It drives the cost of the construction, interconnection with the grid, and, most importantly, the amount of money that you, the landowner, gets.

There are many things that can impact the viability of a solar PV power generation project. Some things occur down the road that can’t be predicted, like local politics that oppose renewable energy, NIMBY advocates, or broader economic sentiment, but there are 5 main things that developers look for when assessing land viability:

  • Topography
  • Hydrology
  • Irradiance
  • Interconnection ease
  • Long term energy costs

Topography – Flat land is ideal for solar photovoltaic power production; it allows for efficient placement of the solar panels that maximizes their sun exposure. Hilly land is less ideal for this; however, it is not a deal breaker, but it may increase the cost of the project to get the desired amount of power.

Hydrology – Marshland or land in historic floodplains can be a major stumbling block for development. Environmental regulations often prohibit or have very strict requirements for development on marshland, and marshlands often are homes to endangered species. Anything in a historic floodplain can run afoul of those same regulations, in addition to increased insurance costs.

Irradiance – This is simply a matter of location and not much a property owner can do. That said, solar panels are now so efficient and cheap that any area in the US is economical, no matter how far north.

Interconnection ease – Commercial or industrial solar PV power generation requires 3-phase power lines to interconnect to the grid. This isn’t always easy to determine but if the visible power poles have three lines on them, it may be 3-phase. Additionally, land with close proximity to a substation is very desirable for developers, it can significantly decrease the interconnection cost for the project as cabling costs decrease.

Long term energy costs – Deregulated markets with high costs of electricity make solar even more viable, but the current environment favors development in most jurisdictions, with the benefits going to the property owner via an attractive lease rate. The more ideal the location, the more the compensation

Price of Power – Excessively low prices may not be as viable as areas with much higher prices, but a developer may still want to proceed.

This list is not comprehensive, but it does lay out some main initial stumbling blocks that may impact your lands viability for Solar PV. That being said, none of these points is necessarily a deal-breaker! Your land may still be viable even if it is not the “ideal” parcel. It is worth finding out, so you don’t miss out on stable, long term, reliable income.

Please reach out to Maximum Lease if you think your land qualifies and we can put you in touch with our rolodex of developers to hopefully move you to the next step.