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Due Diligence in Renewable Energy Development: The Importance of Comprehensive Property Evaluation

In the realm of renewable energy project development, the time-honored maxim, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” underscores the significance of thorough preparatory work. Particularly in the sphere of renewable energy, the intricacy and scale of the projects necessitate that developers are meticulous in their preliminary assessments. A lapse in this stage can not only jeopardize the viability of the project but also escalate the associated costs.

Oftentimes, in the enthusiasm to secure land for development, there’s a rush to identify amenable landowners and suitable real estate. However, this haste can occasionally lead to overlooking fundamental flaws in the property, imperfections that might have a detrimental impact on the project’s long-term feasibility. Such oversights can prove exorbitantly expensive, both in terms of time and monetary investment, especially if they emerge at advanced stages of the project.

To this end, it is also prudent to judiciously spend some money early on in the project to identify flaws which could save thousands later on. For example, investing in a comprehensive environmental and wildlife report at the outset can provide invaluable insights. Such proactive measures could identify specific areas on the property to be avoided, ensuring a smoother project execution while minimizing future rectifications or legal complications.

Fortunately, the technological advancements in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have made it substantially easier for developers to conduct rigorous evaluations of potential sites. Modern GIS software provides the tools to promptly detect a myriad of potential issues like wetlands, flood plains, steep terrains, and other geological or ecological considerations that might influence a site’s suitability for renewable energy projects.

Drawing a parallel, developing a renewable energy project bears resemblance to the process of constructing a residence. Just as the integrity of a house relies upon the robustness of its foundation, the initial stages of a renewable energy project lay the groundwork for its eventual success or failure. For instance, while the presence of a mortgage on a property might seem inconsequential in the initial stages, addressing this through a Subordination, Non-disturbance, and Attornment Agreement (SNDA) early on could preempt complications. Delaying such processes until the brink of the project’s conclusion can lead to unforeseen delays and augmented costs.

The renewable energy sector, given its potential to redefine our energy landscape, has no room for shortcuts or oversights. As the demand for cleaner, more sustainable energy sources intensifies, so does the necessity for projects to be executed flawlessly. The initial assessment of property suitability is pivotal, acting as a linchpin that holds the myriad facets of the project together.

In sum, the meticulous evaluation of property before the commencement of renewable energy projects is not merely a procedural step but a critical determinant of the project’s long-term success. Proactive investments, like environmental assessments, can prove invaluable in the long run, potentially saving significant time and resources. Leveraging advanced technologies like GIS ensures that the foundation upon which these projects stand is unassailable. By recognizing and addressing potential issues at the outset, developers can ensure the seamless progression of their initiatives, safeguarding investments and bolstering the drive towards a sustainable energy future.

Joe Tassone Jr. is founder and a principal of Oncore Origination and has over twenty-five years of project development experience.

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