Articles Posted in Solar

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Today the Texas Supreme Court denied review of the El Paso Court of Appeals’ opinion in Lyle v. Midway Solar. I discussed the Court of Appeals’ opinion in a prior post. In brief, mineral owners sued a solar farm developer for constructing a solar farm on land under which they owed minerals, complaining that the solar developer had made no accommodation for mineral development. The Court of Appeals held that the mineral owners’ suit was premature because the minerals were unleased and there were no current plans for mineral development. Their suit was dismissed without prejudice.

If the Lyles exercise their right [to use the surface] as part of developing the minerals, Midway must yield to the degree mandated by the application of the accommodation doctrine. But if the Lyles are not exercising their right, there is nothing to be accommodated. Stated otherwise, until the Lyles seek to develop their minerals, Midway owes no duty to the Lyles respecting the surface usage. Were it otherwise a mineral owners who undertakes no efforts to develop the mineral estate could claim damages from any surface activities that might hinder—at some point in the future—the exploration for oil and gas.

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In all the recent debate about developing alternatives to carbon fuels and China’s continued dependence on coal, it is remarkable to see how far China is ahead of the rest of the world in developing solar power for electric generation. (click on image to enlarge)


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A recent report from Deloitte provides a good perspective on the prospects for wind and solar electricity.

Some takeaways:

Costs of wind and solar are now competitive with coal and gas. “Power purchase agreement (PPA) prices for wind and solar power are also competitive with other resources. The weighted average US price for the first half of 2021 from auction and PPAs for solar PV is US$31/MWh, while for onshore wind it is US$37/MWh. This compares to a weighted average wholesale electricity price of about US$34/MWh across US markets during the same period.” It now costs less to build new solar and wind plants than to continue operating existing coal-fired plants. Wind and solar costs are projected to fall by half by 2030.

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“Electric power markets in the United States are undergoing significant structural change that we believe, based on planning data we collect, will result in the installation of the ability of large-scale battery storage to contribute 10,000 megawatts to the grid between 2021 and 2023—10 times the capacity in 2019.”

EIA Report “Battery Storage in the United States: An Update on Market Trends.

How much is 10,000 megawatts? What is a megawatt?

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According to the Houston Chronicle, “ERCOT estimates the amount of solar capacity alone could more than double by May 2022, growing to more than 17,000 megawatts from about 7,000 megawatts in April. One megawatt is enough to power about 200 Texas homes on hot summer day.” That’s 3.4 million homes. Read the article here.

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The El Paso Court of Appeals tangled with the accommodation doctrine in Lyle v. Midway Solar, LLC, No. 08-19-00216-CV, and the mineral owner lost.

The Lyles own a 27.5% mineral interest in 315 acres in Pecos County. Gary Drgac owns the surface. Drgac leased the 315 acres to Midway Solar for a solar farm. Midway constructed its solar array, leaving 17 acres on the south end and 80 acres on the north end for “Designated Drill Sites.” Midway did not get a surface waiver from the Lyles. The solar array covers 70% of the surface above the Lyles’ mineral estate.


Top-TenThe Lyles sued Midway for trespass and breach of contract. The breach of contract claim was based on the language in the deed that reserved the mineral interest owned by the Lyles. It provided that the Grantors reserve “the right to such use of the surface estate in the lands as may be usual, necessary or convenient in the use and enjoyment of the oil, gas and general mineral estate ….” It also provided that Grantors would never be liable to Grantees for any damage or injury to the surface estate by reason of such use. The trespass claim was based on the theory that Midway’s use deprived the Lyles of the right to use the land under its solar array and therefore trespassed on the Lyle’s right to use the surface estate of that land. Continue reading →

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Excellent article by Shannon L. Ferrell, Professor at the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University, on negotiating solar leases. You can download it here.

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