If land used for a solar facility is to be returned to agricultural use in the future, it will be necessary to remove the solar equipment from the land. This process is known as decommissioning. Decommissioning is basically the construction process in reverse; it involves removal of the solar panels, breakup of support pads, removal of access roads, replacement of any displaced soil, and revegetation.
Solar development often takes place on leased land, although it also occurs on land owned by solar companies. When leased land is involved, it must be determined whether the landowner or the solar developer bears responsibility for decommissioning. Responsibilities for decommissioning are lease-specific in North Carolina. It is important for landowners to consider decommissioning when setting lease terms, although landowners may choose in some cases to accept decommissioning responsibility themselves. Although state rules on solar decommissioning do not currently exist in North Carolina, local jurisdictions can choose to adopt regulations pertaining to decommissioning.
The materials recovered in the decommissioning process have significant economic value, which can help pay for the costs of decommissioning. Some engineering analyses have indicated that the salvage value of recovered materials is more than enough to pay for the removal of all the materials and to return the site to its pre-construction state.,,,
NCSU has produced several resources that provide more information on decommissioning. They include:
- ^ 9 RBI Solar, Decommissioning Plan submitted to Catawba County associated with permitting of a 5MW solar project in June 2016. Accessed April 2017. www.catawbacountync.gov/Planning/Projects/Rezonings/RZ2015-05_DecommissioningPlan.pdf
- ^ Birdseye Renewables, Decommissioning Plan submitted to Catawba County associated with permitting of a 5MW solar project in May 2015. Accessed April 2017. http://www.catawbacountync.gov/Planning/Projects/Rezonings/RZ2015-04_DecommissioningPlan.pdf.
- ^ Cypress Creek Renewables, Decommissioning Plan submitted to Catawba County associated with permitting of a 5MW solar project in September 2016. Accessed April 2017. http://www.catawbacountync.gov/Planning/Projects/Rezonings/RZ2016-06decommission.pdf.
- ^ Vasilis Fthenakis, Zhuoran Zhang, Jun-Ki Choi.Cost Optimization of Decommissioning and RecyclingCdTePV Power Plants.IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference 44. June 2017. Accessed August 2017. http://www.ieee-pvsc.org/ePVSC/core_routines/view_abstract_no.php?show_close_window=yes&abstractno=556.
- ^ North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center.Health and Safety Impacts of Solar Photovoltaics. May 2017. Accessed June 2017. https://nccleantech.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/Health-and-Safety-Impacts-of-Solar-Photovoltaics-2017_white-paper.pdf
- ^ North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association and North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center.Template Solar Energy Development Ordinance for North Carolina. October 2016. Accessed June 2017. https://nccleantech.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/NC-Template-Solar-Ordinance_2016.pdf
- ^ North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center.Working Paper: State Regulation of Solar Decommissioning.February 2016. Accessed June 2017. https://nccleantech.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/Solar-Decommissioning-Policy-Working-Paper.pdf
- ^ Ted Feitshans, Molly Brewer.Landowner Solar Leasing: Contract Terms Explained.NC State Extension Publications. May 2016. Accessed March 2017. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/landowner-solar-leasing-contract-terms-explained