The contribution made by renewables to UK power has more than doubled since 2014, with energy generated by wind, solar, biomass and hydro sources making up 42% of the UK’s electricity in 2020.
Much of this growth was due to the growing number of windfarms, with almost a quarter of the UK’s electricity generated by wind turbines in 2020 - double the contribution of wind power in 2015[i]. And there are now over one million solar panel installations in the UK. In 2021, solar power contributed more than 10% of renewable generation, and more than 4% of total electricity generation in the UK[ii].
As global events and government commitments to reduce carbon emissions demand further and faster growth, an increasing number of developers and funders are looking to get involved in renewable development projects. Inevitably, this increased activity means that conveyancing professionals are being called upon to act on behalf of developers looking to acquire leases for agricultural land to build new solar or wind farms, or to purchase existing ones. And, as with any land transaction, solicitors are uncovering title defects that will need addressing before it can be completed.
Consequently, we are seeing more frequent requests to provide cover for solar and wind farm transactions, for title issues such as restrictive covenants, lack of rights of way, manorial or mining and mineral rights, or other outstanding third-party rights and easements affecting the site. Enquiries relating to easements for services are particularly relevant where pipelines, cables and power connections extend over long distances, and the route includes unregistered strips of land, where ownership is unknown and sufficient legal easements cannot, therefore, be acquired for installation of the service media.
The increase in popularity of electric vehicles is also increasing the number of ‘clean energy’ enquiries we receive, with the installation of EV charging points becoming more common. Again, title issues can still arise which require a legal indemnity policy, whether the transaction is for the development of a new charging station site, or for leasing parking spaces to install new charging points in an existing car park, as is becoming more standard at many supermarkets and retail parks.
Our commercial underwriting specialists have already gained a wealth of experience with the types of issues that arise, and are best-placed to help with the policies needed. These title defects might not be unusual, but because of the intended use of the land, we’re able to create bespoke policies, as well as provide extra cover for service or utility providers where required. The key difference from other large-scale property developments is the type of losses covered. As well as the usual costs associated with defending a claim, our policies can cover for abortive installation costs, liability to pay rent under the lease, loss of anticipated income under power purchase agreements, and the cost of dismantling the equipment and restoring the land back to its previous condition, if a claim prevents their use.
To find out more, call our underwriting team directly on 01603 617617, or email us at email@example.com.
[ii] UK Energy Trends Report, October to December 2021 and 2021, UK Government (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1064782/Energy_Trends_March_2022.pdf