Offsite Solar

What is offsite solar?

A utility-scale, grid-connected offsite solar PV system (a.k.a solar farm) is one that is “in-front-of-the-meter” and remote from the client’s property.  Such systems typically range in size from 2M-10MW, but can be much larger.  System size is typically determined by the following:

  • The physical size and cost of the land on which it is constructed.  Approximately 4-5 acres per MW DC are required, plus additional land for setback and wetland considerations.
  • The cost, complexity, and distance of the utility interconnection to the property is also of major concern.  Larger solar farms may tolerate more expensive interconnects and substations in their business models, but smaller farms require cheap, simple ones.
  • State incentives play a major role in the financial viability of a solar farm project.  Without an offtaker (i.e. a large energy consumer to sign a PPA to use the energy output of the solar farm), the operator will typically have to accept wholesale pricing from the local utility, which is much cheaper.
Where is it built?

Offsite solar is typically constructed (where permitted) on the following types of land:

  • Greenfields (land that is not farmland preserved, but may be farm assessed)
  • Remediated brownfields and landfills
  • Other types of land (e.g. rock quarries)
Project development

Prepare the property for construction:

  • Environmental studies
  • Interconnection studies
  • Site plan development
  • Local permitting
  • Secure an offtaker
  • Obtain easements
  • Develop construction/electrical plans
Offtaker options
A client of offsite solar may be an offtaker of the project, in which case it would sign a PPA (a.k.a. Power Purchase Agreement).  The client would agree to purchase the energy output of the solar farm at a fixed price (typically with an annual escalator) for 15-25 years.  Since the client is not directly-connected to the solar farm, the transaction can be synthetic.  This is also known as a “contract for differences”.  In such a case, the client would not actually be purchasing energy, but hedging its energy costs by making/receiving small payments such that its energy rate would remain fixed.