Rising electricity prices and a change in the political climate have led to a boom in renewable energy projects across Queensland.
In the north, wind turbines are rising from the earth where sugar cane was once grown. On the Darling Downs and in Western Queensland, solar farms are spreading across cropping or grazing land. These projects are funded by both energy companies and the Federal Government from the $100 million Australian Renewable Energy Fund, and the growth of the industry since 2015 is remarkable.
East of Longreach, Canadian Solar has built a $29 million project which will export enough energy to power 5,000 homes when fully operational in the next few years. Outside Barcaldine, a Spanish energy company has completed the first stage of a $70 million project that currently includes 78,000 solar panels and will shortly expand to accommodate a battery storage facility. Further, with recent approvals from the State Government, work will begin shortly on the Clarke Creek Wind Farm west of Marlborough including almost 200 wind turbines over 50,000 hectares of land capable of producing 3% of the State’s electricity needs.
More and more landholders are being approached with the opportunity to diversify their incomes. Arrangements with landholders usually involve an initial investigation period in which the project proponent is granted access and/or exclusivity followed by long-term leases or licences. Landholders securing the best outcomes consider the whole of the project when negotiating with a project proponent.
While the operating rent or licence fee is important, so too are the payments during the investigation, construction and de-commissioning phases of the project and landholders can also negotiate to be protected from unexpected consequences of the project on their businesses.
Our agribusiness lawyers are experienced in these negotiations and can assist landholders to reach a sound outcome before, during and after the life of a renewable energy project.