Do I have enough land for a solar farm?
When it comes to solar farm land requirements, location is more important than the amount of land you have. Even if you only have a few acres, you still have a chance to generate income by leasing your land for a solar farm. This is because solar developers also consider proximity to electrical infrastructure (substations and transmission lines) and a few other factors as they evaluate parcels of interest. To find your land's value for solar leasing, you can find your parcel on the map at landgate.com and generate your free property report.
How long will a solar developer be on my property?
Once you sign the solar lease agreement, or option to lease, there are generally four phases to a solar farm project: 1) Development Phase (sometimes referred to as the Option Period) – This could take anywhere from 1 – 5 years. It will include planning, permitting and regulatory matters. There is a possibility that during this phase, the operator may decide not to complete the project due to financial or regulatory restrictions. 2) Construction Phase – This typically lasts between 2 and 4 months while they install the solar panels and supporting infrastructure. 3) Operations Phase (sometimes referred to as the Production Phase) – During this phase, the solar panels should actively be producing energy. This phase could last anywhere from 20 – 50 years depending on the specific lease agreement. 4) Decommissioning Phase – Unless the solar developer negotiates the right to extend the lease for another lengthy operations phase, the solar panels and supporting structures will be removed and they work with you to restore the property to its original condition pre-lease.
What happens if the solar developer goes out of business?
During the lengthy leasing period, it is possible that the lease may change hands at some point, or that the developer goes bankrupt. In the event that the solar developer goes bankrupt, the solar farm may be sold to another developer, who would take over the lease and continue operating the project as planned. This means that there is a potential for gaps in the lease payments, but the developer who purchases the solar farm would be responsible for any back payments. There is a level of risk associated with leasing your land for solar energy (and many benefits!), so it’s important to have potential lease agreements reviewed by a licensed attorney.
Will I still be able to farm and run cattle on my property if I lease it to a solar developer?
Usually, solar developers will allow landowners to continue farming, running cattle or carrying out other activities on their land during the option/ development period. If they elect to begin construction, the landowner will be restricted from further activities that would interfere with construction, development, and the operations phases of the solar lease.
Can I lease the surface for solar if I already leased the minerals for oil and gas?
In general, mineral leasing and surface leasing can coexist. Yes, you can still lease your land for a solar farm if the minerals are already leased. The solar company will work with you and the operator of the lease to ensure that there are dedicated locations set aside for future drilling and development operations.
In these cases, there will likely be a negotiation between the solar developer and the oil and gas company. The solar developer will not be able to move forward with the project until they are certain there will be no interference from oil and gas drilling operations.
Can I lease my surface rights for solar energy if someone else owns the mineral rights?
Yes, you can still lease your land for solar energy if someone else owns the minerals. In most states, the mineral estate is dominant over the surface estate. This means that the mineral owner has the right to grant an oil and gas lease to an operator, who then has the right to use as much of the surface as is reasonably necessary to produce oil and gas. The solar developer will know if the minerals have been leased. If they have been leased, the developer will attempt to coordinate with the oil and gas company in an effort to ensure they can install solar panels on your land. If the minerals have not been leased, the solar developer will contact the mineral owner in hopes that a deal can be made before minerals are ever leased. You can learn more about surface vs. mineral rights here!
Landowners can list their land for lease for solar energy for free on LandGate's open marketplace. Solar developers use our data to plan new projects and contact interested landowners with offers through their listings! It starts by generating your free property report on our map: