The IEA published its World Energy Outlook 2020 ("WEO") on Friday (with the linked Carbon Brief summary following quickly on its heels). As well as outlining the uncertainty and turbulence caused by Covid-19, the IEA also reports on a structural decline of coal and a major rise in renewables.
Whilst the WEO contains detailed analysis of the global energy system, or specific note for landowners may be both the abandonment of any modelling around a "business as usual" scenario, which reaffirms the changes that are likely to be coming with the agricultural and environmental bills when they arrive and also the emphasis that the "cheapest electricity in history" is now offered by the world's best solar power schemes.
From a landowner perspective, this poses the question: "How do I determine what might be the "best" project to go on my land"? Should this be determined purely by reference to the proposed rent? If the proposed income is better than existing farm or rental income, is that sufficient? Or should care be taken to ensure that any proposal will be "best" for the duration of the lease (which may include renewal options).
Clearly, it is sensible to get good advice at an early stage, both to understand the development proposals and to consider how they might best fit in with estate, inheritance and business arrangements and, if there is one, the whole estate plan (https://www.charlesrussellspeechlys.com/en/news-and-insights/insights/private-wealth/2020/landed-estates-the-whole-estate-plan/). In this context, it may be worth considering whether the landowner should be insisting on "aspirational" objectives in the property documents as well as the more usual repair and permitted use obligations. To the extent that the developer will be under habitat management obligations in the planning permission, care should be taken to understand if this could be tied into any current or future environmental land management plans as well.
The WEO is very encouraging from a renewable energy point of view and, to the extent that they are not already, landowners should be alive to the possibilities that may be open to help with the delivery of the best solar schemes.
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