Site finding for renewable energy: solar, wind, EV charging and battery storage
With the race to net zero on, and the UK targeting half of its power to come from renewable energy sources by 2030, we have seen a steep rise in land acquisition for renewable energies across the board. This includes development land for solar, wind, electric vehicle (EV) charging and battery storage.
In fact many landowners are actively looking to sell or, more often than not, lease their land to renewable energy providers. So, if you’re looking to find land to develop in this way, LandHawk can help.
We’re currently working with several organisations to source the perfect land for long-term lease options. We thought we would share some of the insights gleaned from our journey so far.
How much land will I need?
The first thing to look at is the size of the plot you’re likely to need, for example the average 1MW solar farm needs around 6 acres. With solar farms there’s lots more to consider on the ground, things like access routes, batteries and inverters.
If you’re looking at wind turbines each one generates around 1.8-2.5MW and requires a lot more acreage: one turbine can require anything up to 80 acres. Turbines need to be spaced far apart but this does present an opportunity for farming to continue in the fields below.
What kind of site is suitable?
Generally renewable sites are built on agricultural land with the ideal sites being brownfield, contaminated or industrial. In broad terms, the less suitable they are for housing or farming, the more likely it will be that planning approval will be forthcoming.
For a solar farm, any land that’s highly fertile is likely to be refused development by planners. There may however be some exceptions on grazing or low-yield land.
With a wind farm, you can install these on farmland as we mentioned previously, because the land below can still be used for crops. One thing you will need to ensure is the stability of the land beneath, so it can support the turbines.
With both, the main thing you will need to consider is proximity and connection to the electricity grid. This dictates whether you can export the power generated, as storage won’t always be possible due to its fluctuating nature.
You will also need to take into account access for construction as well as maintenance, proximity to dwellings (solar farms can emit a considerable glare) plus topography. Topography is especially important for solar farms given the amount of direct sunlight they need. For example flat land or a south facing slope is ideal.
How long does the process take?
Without a doubt, the longest process will be the planning application. This is where LandHawk comes in. To help facilitate a smooth process, and to give the best possible chance of the application being successful, it is important to accurately identify whether or not a parcel of land is suitable as early on in the process as possible.
Our platform helps you to find the right land in principle from the outset, then refine using bespoke suitability criteria in line with your specific requirements. These criteria might draw from datasets such as DNO or National Grid substations, pylons, overhead lines, urban settlements, flood risk, Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) and many, many more. All of these datasets are included as standard within your LandHawk subscription.
Our SiteFinder tool is ideal for this purpose as you can quickly and easily search large areas against your given criteria. LandHawk will simply return any sites that match. You can then drill down into the details for that site and save them in your Workspace folders for follow up with the landowners. Again, SiteFinder is included in the monthly subscription package.
You will also be able to see if any of the sites have either existing or previous planning permission, plus whether it has been approved or refused and why.
Our Founder Tim has put together a quick video below to show you how you can use our platform to find the perfect site.
If you prefer, you can always ask us to run these searches on your behalf if you don’t have the in-house resource. We will automatically save all the suitable sites for you to progress in our Workspace area. Sourcing land for renewable energy is one of our most prominent areas of expertise.
To find out more, give our friendly team a call for a demo and we’ll help you find the perfect site or by clicking the button below.