Interest in renewable energy projects has increased at a frantic rate since January 2016
Landowners are being approached by solar and/or wind project developers and in some cases, multiple developers are contacting landowners wanting to secure site access.
The Queensland Government released a 4 page, Powering North Queensland Plan.
Further in the State Budget it is proposed that some $386million would be invested in the plan.
There are many incentives being offered to Solar Farm or Wind Farm developers right now. It may be the case that you are interested in a project being operated on your land, or if you have been approached by one or more project developers, you should inform yourself about the space in which you are entering.
As a starting point we recommend you visit the following sites (for a bit of light reading!)
- Australian Government Australian Renewable Energy Agency(ARENA)
- Australian Government Australian Renewable Energy Agency AREMI mapping system
- Queensland Government Solar 60 and Solar 150 Programs
- Australian Government Clean Energy Regulator
Some landowners just happen to be located in a perfect area for these projects. As a start, these companies require access to the grid, meaning a large capacity power line or substation with capacity should be located nearby.
Arena, which is the Federal Government Arm of the Renewable Agency, have been producing software so that solar farm or wind farm developers can locate appropriate sites.
They’ve got a database that helps developers find appropriate locations for solar farms. So we will get called by our clients, and they will say, “I have been approached for a 500 hectare solar farm, can you help me out Mel?”
Like all third party activity on farming there are important considerations to be made.
The Challenges involved in setting up a solar farm
- Impacts on future activities. Do you want to agree to a long-term lease or do you want to be able to subdivide the land in question
- If you subdivided and sold an area off what could that mean to your existing business? It may become a solar farm in the near future but then something else may be built
- Installing solar panels does not end the process. Panels must be kept clean and there will probably be electricity line running to substations or to overhead powerline, because they will need to tap into the grid
- With changes to the biosecurity legislation weed baseline assessments would need to be carried out
- As with all commercial transacations, the tax implications would also have to be considered
A landowner who has a block located out of flood areas, with favourable vegetation mapping and a freehold with good road access could be the owner of a viable site. This may command a good rental return from a Solar Farm.
The other thing we are noticing is there are hotspots. So if you are on flat dirt, good access, out of flood, near a substation, you will be contacted by more than one company.
So not signing up exclusively, maybe you can double dip and have a go at two solar farms rather than just one. So don’t lock yourself in, is probably my hot tip.
A Wind Farm site usually again can be built on land with favourable vegetation mapping and on a range where the wind speed is appropriate.
It is important to choose your developer wisely if you are approached by more than one developer. Seek out assistance and be informed.