There has never been a better time for landowners to seek ground rent from energy schemes, with some worth up to £8m over their lifetime. But there are some important pitfalls to avoid, warns power and energy consultant Roadnight Taylor.
The average landowner’s chances of getting an energy scheme are greater now than ever, says CEO Hugh Taylor. “However, there has also never been a more appropriate time to be prudent and not sign up with the first developer that knocks at the door.”
Landowners now have prime opportunities to rent out land for schemes of a wide range of scales – from 2MW to 50MW – and from gas gensets on a quarter of an acre connecting at 11kV, to a solar installations on 200 acres connecting at 132kV, explains Mr Taylor. “Wind, solar, gas gensets and battery storage all represent good potential opportunities for landowners with the right sites.
“Depending on their site, landowners can expect ground rents of over £800/acre for solar leases of 30 to 50 years. Gas gensets can return up to £150,000/year and battery storage, currently a trickier market, over £50,000/year.”
However, as scheme developers specialise in specific technologies, scales and voltages, signing up with the first developer is likely to leave landowners with no scheme at all, he warns. “If a landowner lets a developer apply for a grid connection, it may well be the wrong technology and scale for the site’s specific grid connection opportunity – so this ties the site to a developer who will never get a scheme off the ground.”
It’s therefore vital to get expert, independent advice first, and to secure grid rights for the appropriate technology and scale – and definitely not in the developer’s name, says Mr Taylor. “Only then can landowners safely invite competing bids from a number of the best developers, putting themselves in the best position to negotiate optimal terms.”
He also urges landowners to be proactive and act quickly. “Headroom to export and import electricity to and from the electrical grid is limited, but is also changing all the time. Failed projects are releasing capacity and Network Operators are reconfiguring and reinforcing their networks – and re increasingly monitoring them in real time – to enable more connections. But Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) issue spare capacity on a strictly first-come first-served basis – and if there is capacity on your part of the network, it sure as hell will only be enough for one scheme – so landowners must act fast to get ahead of their neighbours.”