As we enter the second half of 2022, the race to find suitable greenfield solar sites is picking up speed. Pandemic-era supply chain issues are finally loosening and beginning to resolve, and 2023 looks to be pretty frenetic as the handcuffs that restrained power generation growth are removed.
However, while it’s always great to shed those shackles, this resumption of full-bore development will bring with it many challenges:
- During the Worldwide Suckiness of COVID-19, we learned several hard lessons. Shuttered factories pointed out weaknesses in the global supply chain.
- Disruptions in manufacturing encouraged green industries to move production back to US soil – solar panel components among them.
The general interruption of it all showed more clearly than ever how broken and archaic the environmental permitting process has become.
Take note of No. 3 especially. We simply cannot meet our wind and solar energy goals and avoid heartburn if we don’t do something about it.
Now, some of the breakdowns in environmental due diligence and consulting are a natural consequence of time’s ever-forward march. If old mechanisms aren’t replaced, they get left behind by the advancements around them.
However, a healthy ingredient in this problem is also the determined death grip consultants have on environmental due diligence today. This iron fist enables them to charge high prices, work at their own pace, and do it all within a black box that cares not a whit for your own timelines.
Don’t mind if we don’t.
The good news is that new technological breakthroughs can automate the environmental due diligence process and compress it into minutes, not weeks or months. And they can do it with more detail and accuracy than your current overpriced consultant could possibly provide.
Now that the amazing solar race has resumed in earnest, it’s time to get your environmental consultant off your back. Today, we’ll talk about the problem, the solution, how to make the transition in your own business … and a foolproof brisket recipe to boot.
Okay, we lied about the brisket thing. You’ll have to ask Mrs. Finkelstein next door for that. As for the rest, let’s get started.
A New Era in Renewable Energy Goals
As we’ve discussed before, President Biden’s clean energy goals leave little room for chicanery or rigmarole. (Or balderdash. Or poppycock.) Among other objectives, he intends the United States to:
- Provide all electricity from carbon-free sources by 2030
- Supply half of it locally, using large-scale clean energy sources
- Require zero-emission new vehicle acquisitions by 2035 and net-zero federal procurement by 2050
- Eliminate emissions in federal operations by 2050, with a 65-percent stepdown by 2030
He’s not messing around, and we’re here for it.
Moreover, we’ve got several bits of hopeful news for 2023 and subsequent years. New plug-and-play solar components are being developed and will become readily available soon. Aluminum is poised for a widespread replacement of expensive steel. Tariff investigations into solar parts provenance should resolve shortly, relieving fears of a slowdown there.
Still, green energy project risks persist, and the steep competition represented by the amazing solar race is undoubtedly one of them.
Alrighty Then, What's With This Land Grab?
Given all these changes, 2022 is the year to find and bind as many greenfield sites as possible, the better to have them ready for utility-scale development in 2023.
The bad news: we’re not the only ones thinking that. For excitement and ferocity, the amazing solar race is matched only by the amazing green energy land grab. This frantic search for easy-pickings land is only getting hotter as developers race to meet energy goals, harvest renewables, and save Mother Earth from brutal, fossil-fuel-induced pillaging.
Good times! Said no one ever.
The land grab is hopeful for the development of clean energy sources as a whole; we’ll give it that. However, it has several downsides:
Properties Are Getting Harder to Find
The easiest parcels to develop are dwindling rapidly. Greenfield sites that enable rapid project development without complications are becoming harder to find, partially due to the green energy rush and partly because they must still compete with traditional manufacturing and energy production.
What’s a solar developer to do? In short, we must look beyond readily accessible plots on agricultural land and unincorporated areas and get creative.
Environmental Consulting Bottleneck
As a result of the rush, a massive environmental consulting bottleneck has arisen. Greenfield land, despite being uncomplicated, can go through the due diligence process relatively quickly compared to parcels with a bit more going on. (Still not quickly, mind you.)
More complicated properties, such as the redevelopment of brownfield sites, may take longer. And in either case, you’re still looking at several weeks even to know whether you can proceed with the many other steps required for development, from funding to construction to bringing everything online.
Energy Goals in Crisis
Together, these factors may significantly compromise our energy goals. Sorry, Mr. President.
Even worse, as climate change gets worse, research shows that environmental permitting will get even more difficult. That means the crummy environmental due diligence process may prove to be its own undoing … not to mention that of civilization as we know it.
We can’t afford that. We like the internet and Starbucks and Marvel movies. And also, like, nature.
Which brings us to how environmental consultants are bringing us all down … and why we need to get them off our backs today.
How Are Traditional Environmental Consultants Holding You Back?
Environmental consultants mean well. Probably. Sometimes. Okay, occasionally, they have your best interests and that of the planet in mind.
The unfortunate truth is that environmental consulting is an industry. Those who profit off it – not to mention bill by the hour – have no incentive to speed up the process, pull back the curtain, or charge you any less than they do. Despite the bona fide research that says slow due diligence is leading to a bottleneck, leading to slowdowns across the board, they’re still committed to the old ways.
That’s not just annoying. It’s straight-up irresponsible. It means:
- Slower development of wind and solar projects, which means a greater reliance on conventional energies in the meantime
- Permitting challenges will continue to create jostling between developers and compromise Biden’s green energy goals – and those of any future administration
- Continued reliance on good-old-boy tactics, bribes, insider dealings, and other backdoor approaches to permitting that don’t help the industry as a whole
If you think there has to be a better way, you’re in luck.
So Like, Can You REALLY Get Rid of Your Consultant?
We’re not in a mob movie. You can’t ice anyone here, so don’t try. Your trial will slow down solar development, which is just not good for the environment.
Instead, it’s time to turn our attention to implementing technology.
By automating environmental due diligence systems, we can transform a process that takes weeks or months and winnow it down to mere minutes. Not only don’t you lose detail in the process, you actually gain it, using machine learning technologies and web-based software to create extremely granular environmental reports on the fly.
Say goodbye to old-fashioned environmental consultants and hello to the new century.
Also, we hate to tell you this, but your competitors are already using technologies like this to build solar farms and other renewable energy projects, racking up the megawatts. They’re going to beat you to the best sites by many moons while you wait for overpriced traditional paper-based critical issues analyses.
Time to get your environmental consultant off your back and choose something better.
Talk to Transect Today
Transect was built on the idea that there was a better way to complete due diligence. Ourselves reformed environmental consultants and engineers, we put our heads together and came up with an automated solution that cuts the line, saves you money, and gets you to development quicker.
To date, we’ve accelerated numerous green energy projects, from solar power to wind and beyond. We would love to help speed up yours as well, so go ahead and schedule a demo today.
With an investment of only 20 minutes, you’ll learn how to generate desktop reports, perform critical issues analyses and do feasibility studies in only minutes on the month. (You know, like cents on the dollar, but with a way better ratio.) Don’t wait to get in touch … click that link above and let us help you help the world today.