Partner A-J Monro is regularly asked where are renewables going, what is the next step, is hydrogen something that should be looked at for the future and how much will I get paid? Here are his top tips for renewable energy in 2022.
These are all very difficult questions and there is no definitive answer in each case. In regard to hydrogen there are various different thoughts as to whether this will one day replace electric vehicles (EV’s) or, are EV’s here to stay. The thinking from those in the know is that it is likely electric vehicles will remain for personal vehicle purposes i.e., your car. However, the same cannot be said for long distance vehicles such as HGV’s, shipping and planes and it is in these situations where it is considered more likely that hydrogen might spell the future, possibly even a rollout for tractors.
There is always going to be the need to generate and produce hydrogen, which requires a reliable and sizeable electricity supply as well as fresh water. Fresh water can usually be supplied in sufficient quantities from a typical mains supply, whereas reliable energy can be problematic due to fluctuations on the overall electricity network as a result of high usage during peak times. Consequently, it is plausible that hydrogen may best be produced relying on battery storage facilities, where there could be a steady supply of electricity at a given rate without interruption, and for that reason the future may see hydrogen plants being built alongside large battery storage facilities, which themselves could be charged either directly off the grid or by Solar Parks. As a result, it is considered likely that in due course there maybe a demand for land specifically for the purpose of hydrogen production, but not yet!
In recent months we have seen more sites coming forwards for EV charging points in the form of purpose built standalone EV charging stations, as well as those being bolted onto existing petrol stations, carparking lots and the odd coffee house. The difficulty with any of these new EV charging stations is finding the right site as unlike a petrol station, an EV charging station needs to be able to accommodate multiple cars at one time, usually for a duration of anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour depending on the individuals requirement. Consequently, it would appear that the most suitable EV charging stations are those in towns or, with facilities to provide entertainment for the owner of the EV whilst it is being charged.
Looking at Solar, the biggest challenge remains the National Grid where it is constrained and limits the amount of electricity that can be pushed into the line. It is considered by experts within the industry that this limitation is the biggest issue for the growth of clean energy, and there is a general feeling that national policy needs to change in order to encourage the government to review their policies and replace the existing infrastructure which in the majority of cases is well over seven decades old.
There is still a strong demand for new Solar Parks but quite often these now come with the added bolt on of a battery storage site, and whilst some developers still shy away from these as they are not yet commercially viable, others are starting to embrace this as a future technology, thereby looking to incorporate these within the designs for any new Solar Park in a way to future proof the project.
There is consideration that wind turbines do need to be re visited as a source of clean energy, not only as offshore wind farms but also onshore if Britain is going to be able to meet the green targets as set by the Government. For this to happen there will need to be a change in planning policy and it is considered likely that this could be forthcoming sometime in the near future, but no doubt past the next election as it is a very emotional subject for many.
In respect of the success of planning applications, the Government have recently produced a study which is shown that up to 96% of applications for Solar Parks being put forwards have been approved, particularly in mind with the additional benefits that have now been incorporated in most Solar Parks in terms of the ecological benefits, rewilding, and similar.
In terms of rental income, every site is different, but the average would seem to provide an income to the landowner of approximately £950 per acre however, it is always recommended that there should be a link to a percentage of turnover in order to safeguard the income for the landowner, which can quite often outperform expectations resulting in a greater income. In addition to this many developers also offer bonus payments on the granting of the option or lease but, sometimes these can be a red herring which sounds attractive but may not actually be in the long term a benefit to the landowner, and thereby need to be studied carefully.
With the Basic Payment Scheme income reducing between now and its termination in 2027 and with the early indication on the ELMS replacement to the BPS being far less in terms of income, it is essential that landowners look wherever possible for alternative sources be that diversification and re use of redundant buildings or the turning over of agricultural land to Solar.
In an ideal world any land to be promoted would be within approximately 2km of a suitable overhead line, but ideally it would be within a relatively close proximity to a substation.
If you have any land that may be suitable for solar and battery development, or would like to discuss potential diversification and alternative uses for your land and property, particularly in light of the Basic Payment Scheme coming to an end, please do not hesitate to contact A-J on 01202 882103 or one of our Rural Agents in your nearest office.