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      Bright Sparks - Solar and Battery Markets Still Hot

      Amidst a dynamic renewable energy landscape, developers are still scoping out new solar energy and battery storage projects in England, even though many considered this market to be almost at saturation nearly two years ago. Susannah Hibbard and Chris Thyer, both Partners in our energy and renewables team, explore the current trend for these technologies.

      06 Mar 2024 3 Minute Read

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      “There is certainly evidence of increased competitiveness with solar and battery developers vying for the same areas of land,” said Chris. “There are so many players in the sector that, as a landowner, navigating your way to finding a reputable developer can be tricky.

      The market sentiment raises concerns about the finite availability of suitable land for solar developments if the current appetite for such projects continues, but this competition also means a potentially higher rent for landowners who are willing to lease their property for this type of energy development. Developers are offering stronger rents to obtain a land deal in the right location.”

      Susannah says that “developers are concentrating on specific geographic areas, potentially leading to land exhaustion in those regions.

      "They are also showing reluctance towards standalone battery projects and instead the focus is on co-located projects, where solar and battery storage complement each other. However, the possibility of previously designated battery storage land returning to the market (after options expire) is now on the table, thus providing opportunities for developers who are desperate to build out. Essentially, if we’re building more wind turbines and solar farms, we need more battery storage for the energy system to be effective.”

      “I have also heard of massive battery storage projects, with proposals reaching up to 100 acres, being proposed,” said Chris.

      “These projects, if successful, could revolutionise the industry. However, there is scepticism about the feasibility of such large-scale endeavours, which require careful consideration of the impact on the landscape and communities as well as greater risks for the landowner(s).

      Nevertheless, developments of this size can be attractive to developers if considering economies of scale. The bigger the development, the more money can be utilized towards grid upgrades and subsequent connections. Larger developments may also trigger a shift in the planning process, with the Secretary of State being involved on what would then be considered a national infrastructure issue, rather than the local planning department.”

      “Developers are exploring new territories and pushing the boundaries of project size, but the industry must navigate challenges such as land scarcity, planning complexities, grid connectivity and the need for sustainable development,” continues Susannah.

      “Opportunities are still there for landowners willing to engage in negotiations with a developer. But,” warns Chris, “there are so many developers out there looking to capitalize on this lucrative market, that advice from an experienced energy and renewables professional is essential to secure an agreement with a reputable developer that will see a project to fruition.”

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