Solar onshore and offshore
RPS has a strong track record and reputation for delivering technical consultancy and operational support to onshore and offshore solar farm developments.
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Perhaps your objectives are focused on reducing carbon and achieving sustainability targets. For others, solar might also be a way of generating revenue from unused or under-utilised land. Whatever your goals, it’s vital to give them adequate thought and share them with your advisers. This will allow them to assess – taking into consideration the real estate available - if solar is the right option to achieve these goals.
It’s important to think about the land and roof space you have available and whether it’s likely to be suitable for a solar project. Location, environmental and utility constraints, and building structure all need to be reviewed when deciding if a solar project is feasible.
To understand the appropriate procurement procedures, you'll need to consider several factors:
When deciding if solar is the right option, you’ll need to consider if it’s also viable from an economic perspective. You’ll need to gain an understanding of the design, build, grid connection, operations and maintenance costs. Most solar projects have a lifespan of around 25 years and regular maintenance will be required, so it’s critical to build this cost in at the outset.
Comparing initial capital expenditure costs and the 25-year maintenance costs against the forecasted revenue based on your available real state will give you a good indication of the viability of the development. You'll also need to take your overall project goals into account too.
As well as being economically viable, ask yourself: is the project technically feasible? This depends significantly on the real estate available and any constraints there may be. For example, the position and location of land and buildings may mean that the technology won’t be capable of generating the energy required to meet your goals. It may also present difficulties in connecting to the grid. Ensuring sufficient due diligence is undertaken is key to the success of any renewables project.
In order to maximise available space, you will need to establish the most effective way to design the project. For roof mounted solar, some buildings may need adaptations to enable solar panels to be added. The design will also need to consider the position of the buildings to help maximise energy generation.
At the start of the project, it’s vital to understand what planning consents will be required. Depending on the scale of energy generation being proposed, solar development projects are subject to either the 1990 Town & Country Planning Act or the 2008 Planning Act Development Consent Order (DCO) route to consent. A DCO is required where the energy generation is >50Mw, comprising a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. These consents follow different processes, but both require environmental information to be submitted when making an application. Typically, pre-application work, including consultation and engagement with stakeholders, will be undertaken along with detailed surveys and reports to assess whether the project is likely to be granted.
Once the project is in operation, you’ll need to monitor and evaluate the performance to ensure it meets the goals set from the outset, along with any ongoing requirements set out in the planning conditions. You may also need to provide updates to investors and key stakeholders who will want to be assured the project is delivering sufficient return on any investments.