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Overcoming Legal Hurdles in Developing Solar Projects on Brownfields

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

As the demand for clean and renewable energy continues to grow, solar power has emerged as a promising solution. Developing solar energy projects on brownfield sites—previously used, often contaminated lands—offers a unique opportunity to repurpose underutilized areas while contributing to a sustainable future. However, navigating the legal hurdles associated with such projects requires careful consideration and strategic planning. Here, we will explore some of the key legal challenges involved in developing solar energy projects on brownfield sites and provide insights on how to overcome them.

Zoning and Permitted Use

Before embarking on a solar energy project, it is crucial to ensure that solar installations are permitted on the brownfield site. Understanding the local zoning regulations and obtaining the necessary permits is essential. AC Power regularly engages with local authorities and zoning boards to help determine if any special permissions or variances are required for our projects. By working closely with relevant stakeholders, we proactively address any concerns early on in the development process and ensure compliance with all of our sites’ zoning requirements.

Regulatory and Permit Requirements

Developing a solar energy project on a brownfield site involves adhering to numerous regulatory and permit requirements. These requirements vary based on location and the specific contaminants associated with the site. It is important to conduct a thorough environmental assessment to identify potential regulatory obstacles and design appropriate mitigation strategies. Engaging with environmental consultants and legal experts well-versed in brownfield redevelopment can help navigate the complex regulatory landscape for these projects. For AC Power, navigating these issues is our bread and butter.

Lease Consistency and Compliance

Securing a suitable lease agreement that aligns with the regulatory and permit requirements is a critical step in developing solar projects on brownfield sites. The lease should consider factors such as access to the site, duration, rent, liability, and termination clauses. At AC Power, we are well versed in drafting lease agreements that provide clarity and safeguards to protect our projects and the interests of all stakeholders, including landowners, potentially responsible parties, and the surrounding community. Our experience and resourcefulness in crafting these leases helps to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and mitigate potential risks.

Cooperation with Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs)

In some cases, brownfield sites may involve ongoing operation and maintenance responsibilities for Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs). Collaborating and reaching an agreement with PRPs are vital to coexisting and effectively utilizing our sites for solar energy development. A cooperation agreement should outline the responsibilities, liabilities, and communication channels between the solar project and PRPs. By establishing clear lines of communication and cooperation, you can create a win-win situation that benefits both parties while ensuring environmental protection and positive outcomes for the surrounding community.

Financial Considerations and Incentives

Developing solar projects on brownfield sites requires significant financial investment, but also has the potential to unlock a number of lucrative financial incentives. It is important to evaluate the project's financial feasibility, including land acquisition costs, remediation expenses, and installation expenditures against those incentives. At AC Power, we explore all financing options, such as grants, tax credits, and other renewable energy incentives, to make our projects economically viable. Our legal and sales teams have significant experience leveraging available incentives to maximize the return on investment for our capital partners.

Developing solar energy projects on brownfield sites offers a compelling opportunity to transform contaminated lands into clean energy hubs. While legal hurdles can be daunting, thorough planning, collaboration with relevant stakeholders, and expert guidance can help overcome these challenges. By addressing zoning concerns, ensuring lease consistency, cooperating with PRPs, and leveraging financial incentives, AC Power will continue to navigate these hurdles and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Join us and let's chart a path to a brighter, greener future!


AC Power is here to support you every step of the way in bringing solar power to a brownfield near you. Contact us at for more information on developing solar energy projects on your local brownfield sites.


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