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Overcoming the 4 Primary Challenges to Solar Development



With solar development and renewable sources now booming across the country, and the Inflation Reduction Act(IRA) adding more caveats and incentives than ever before, we’re hearing the same deceptively simple question from developers all over the United States: How do I determine if a property is suitable for a solar project?


We also covered this in our recent webinar. You can watch the recording below:


It only sounds simple, however. There is so much more to developing land for solar energy than just selecting a patch of land and installing a few solar panels. Factors such as infrastructure, environmental constraints, parcel ownership, and revenue potential all must be considered. And without the right tools in hand, that could potentially mean hundreds of hours of legwork and research. 


Many factors are involved in determining if a property is suitable for a solar project, and we’ve identified four(4) of the primary issues that must be analyzed for every project:


Electric Infrastructure

  • Is the site near the electric grid and are there potential interconnection issues?

  • Are projects already in the interconnection queue nearby? 

  • What is the LMP (Locational Marginal Pricing) for the nearest pricing node?

  • Where is the nearest substation?

  • What is the voltage of nearby transmission lines and distribution lines?

Constraints

  • What are the environmental characteristics of the tract?

  • Is the property relatively flat or are there high slope areas that would be cost prohibitive to build on?

  • Does the site consist of mostly wetlands or is the area in a FEMA Flood Hazard Zone?

  • Are protected areas like dwellings or parks on or adjacent to the property?

Parcels

  • What are the property boundaries and who owns the land?

  • Based on the economic viability of the site, how much can I offer a landowner in a lease/option agreement?

Revenue

  • How much electricity will the project produce by building a solar farm on this site?

  • How much money can I potentially generate over the next 30 years by developing this site?

  • How much money is available through renewable energy incentives in this area?

  • What are my expenses for solar development in this area (panel cost, gen tie, operating costs, network expansion, etc)

Renewable energy project developers must answer these questions and many more for every solar farm that is built in the USA, and for thousands of potential projects that are never developed due to a problem with one of these main factors.  Developers spend millions of dollars each year only to find out by paying a consultant or by spending hours on analysis that the site is not a good candidate for a solar farm.  Results can take days, weeks, or even months depending on the complexity of the project and how many different disparate data sources are required to be analyzed.


As a developer, what if you were able to answer all of these questions in under a minute?


LandGate’s Solar PowerVal allows you to fully customize a buildable area for a property or an aggregation of multiple properties.  It’s a tool to put the important data front and center and improve the efficiency of the siting process. You can enter your own project financial criteria like capex and opex discount rates, the type of solar panel you’ll be using, your cost per watt for each panel, panel spacing, landowner rent rate, and so much more. 


Every financial component of your project, including renewable energy incentives available at your project location, will be calculated to provide you with a long-term forecast of your anticipated revenue and electricity generation. The results from Solar PowerVal can be quickly exported as a PDF or interactive, web-based report that can be saved for future use or sent to your partners on the project. 


LandGate’s powerful, easy-to-use tools make it easy to explore new markets, instantly analyze land for solar feasibility, and increase your team's efficiency by eliminating bad sites in seconds.

  • LandGate’s industry leading electric infrastructure data will help you find sites suitable ideal for interconnection

  • Understand site constraints with Solar PowerVal’s fully customizable buildable area analysis

  • Use the latest and greatest parcel data in LandGate, provided by CoreLogic

  • Forecast your conceptual project’s long-term electricity generation and revenue in under a minute


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