Many landowners are interested in earning extra income off their land with a solar lease or wind lease. Like many, you want a better understanding of what life on your property will look like during the lease period. Will you be able to use your land? What will the lease prohibit you from doing? While each lease is different and it’s important to understand the terms and conditions of any legal agreement, there are some general commonalities when it comes to your land during a solar or wind lease.
Solar Farm Lease or Wind Farm Lease - What You Can & Can’t Do on Your Land
Grow Crops Wind turbines or solar panels on agricultural land do not have to interfere with growing crops. A solar or wind lease should not impact existing farming operations and you can grow crops on any land not covered by solar panels or wind turbines. The ground cover ratio of the solar panels is 30% on average. This means that 70% of your land leased for a solar farm isn’t occupied by solar panels due to topography and maintenance spacing. Any land not covered by solar panels can be farmed as usual. A wind turbine occupies more land because of the width of the blades but it has a very small ground to cover ratio. Farming around wind turbines is surprisingly easy considering they have to be placed far apart to operate. That leaves a lot of land in between the turbines to farm and carry out other surface activities. One wind turbine can require up to 80 acres of land but only a fraction of those acres are used for the actual turbines and supporting infrastructure.
Graze Livestock Grazing livestock and a renewable energy lease can happen simultaneously. Certain animals can graze under and around land with solar panels, with sheep being the most common as they are not too large and enjoy the shade. They can even help with solar farm upkeep. For example, research at Cornell University has shown that sheep can be successfully incorporated into fenced solar installations as a way to reduce the amount of mowing required. When it comes to land with wind turbines, there's pretty much no holds bar as to what types of animals can graze on leased land. As mentioned before, because wind turbines have to be spaced so far apart but require very little land to actually operate, there is plenty of room for cattle to graze around and even under the equipment.
Enjoy Privacy Some landowners worry that an energy lease will mean energy company employees are constantly on their land. You may be concerned about a lack of privacy due to workers making their way onto your property. But not to worry! While your land will see heavier-than-normal traffic during the construction phase of the project, once the solar panels or wind turbines are up and running, an equipment checkup 2-3 times per year is likely all that will be necessary. Important to note - if there is not already an access road adjacent to your land, the energy company will have to build one to get equipment (and people) in and out.
Make Money An energy lease is a great way to supplement your income and provide a cushion for difficult times. When you list your land for a solar farm or wind farm with LandGate, you are exposing your property to thousands of qualified energy buyers. To make even more, you can cumulate revenues from a renewable energy farm and carbon offsets on the same land. For example, you can grow perennial tall grass on the land being used for a solar farm to earn carbon credits every year while you get paid for a solar lease.
With a solar or wind lease, you can’t...
Build Impeding Structures Solar lease agreements generally prohibit the construction of any structures that will block sunlight to the solar panels, as this decreases energy production. Likewise, a wind lease won’t allow for any obstructions to wind flow. In addition, when it comes to a wind lease, wind turbines create turbulence so they must be a certain distance from any structures as well as other turbines. This is why they require so much land but take up very little. To this same point, it is possible for wind turbines and solar panels to exist on one parcel simultaneously. However, it is very unlikely for this to occur.
Plug Directly Into the Power Some landowners with a solar farm lease or wind farm lease think, “Well if energy is being produced on my land, can I use that as a power source?” While it’s a good question, because the electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines is very high voltage, it has to be transformed multiple times before it is suitable for residential use. As with any questions pertaining to leasing land for wind turbines or solar panels, it is important to carefully read and thoroughly understand the lease agreement. Doing your due diligence is important to make sure that you receive the best offer! By entering your land into LandGate's competitive marketplace, you can ensure you are not missing out on any opportunities.