Solar energy developers are now approaching groups of farmers, proposing lease agreements on land parcels larger than 200ac, to get the scale needed to economically justify their development, according to Teagasc’s energy specialist Barry Caslin.

It is anticipated that 16,000ha of land will be sought from farmers for larger solar projects by 2030, if the State’s green energy targets are to be met, Caslin told the Irish Farmers Journal Renewable Roadshow in Cootehill, Co Cavan, on Tuesday.

“Five or six years ago, they were looking for sites of maybe 20ac. Now they might be looking for 200ac-plus sites, that might be amalgamating your land with your neighbours and cobbling together a 200ac-plus site to make it commercially viable,” he explained.

The energy specialist stated that the reason for developers want lease, rather than buy the farmland outright, is that higher upfront cost could “kill the project”.

Caslin emphasised that farmers are in a strong position to negotiate leases with terms favourable to them and he suggested that tax and succession policies on land under renewable developments will likely ensure that farmers aren’t penalised for going down the route of green energy.


“If these deals are not favourable for farmers to get involved in, these deals will fall down, they won’t be successful. Bad news travels a lot quicker than good stories,” he commented.

“It will kill the whole industry off and all these targets we have in the Climate Action Plan to achieve between now and 2030 and net zero by 2050, none of them will be achieved if there are barriers to deployment.”

Legal advice on contract agreements with the developer will be key to ensuring farmers are not hoodwinked by developers, with contracts needing clear conditions set out as to the protocol for panels once they reach the end of their usable life, or if the developer was to go bust, Caslin said.

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