All News

‘Usable’ Acreage and Why It Matters

When it comes to land development, looks can be deceiving: not all development sites are created equal.

 ‘Usable’ Acreage and Why It Matters

When it comes to land development, looks can be deceiving: not all development sites are created equal. Let’s take the following two sites as an example: let’s call them ‘Site A’ and ‘Site B’.

Initially, the sites may look similar: both are approximately 80 acres in size, both sites are largely cultivated and flat, and both appear relatively unconstrained. However, the amount of 'usable' (or developable) land on each site varies significantly. More specifically, when comparing the constraints on each site it becomes clear that Site B has greater usable acreage vs. Site A, and Site A may not warrant any investment (time or money) at all.

In order to launch a targeted renewable development campaign in a new market, it would be helpful to know the usable acreage across all potential sites in a region in order to direct development resources towards prospects with the greatest viability. This is exactly what we have completed via our proprietary 'Galehead Usable Development Area' (or 'GUDA') analysis.

Taking a Step Back….

Galehead Development is a technology-enabled infrastructure development firm. This means Galehead focuses on all aspects of the development life cycle: from market opportunity/identification, to project siting and site control, and all phases of project development. Galehead built and utilizes a proprietary geospatial analytics platform to apply data intelligently to the development process. Galehead is primarily focused on the solar market, however, is quickly expanding into other segments of the renewable energy market and other infrastructure verticals.

Since Galehead started in 2016 the company has increased the breadth and depth of its land analytics. More specifically:

  • Breadth: Galehead has analyzed ~75% of the contiguous US which represents almost 40 million parcels covering approximately 2.4 million square miles, all housed on a suite of remote and proprietary servers.
  • Depth: for each of these parcels, Galehead has attributed over 250 market and physical attributes that are added via custom and proprietary scripts.

The LandCommand™ technology was built for the sole purpose of accelerating development, de-risking development investment, and increasing project conversion with data-driven development.

Interesting. Why does this matter?

By leveraging the deep intelligence of LandCommand™, Galehead can be effective in solar markets throughout the country. LandCommand™ technology enables Galehead to enter multiple markets simultaneously by:

  • Using big data to deconstruct large markets into the most viable, actionable Areas of Interest;
  • Establishing a consistent and repeatable prospecting process;
  • Tailoring site identification and qualification to the intended development strategy(s) and project segment(s) across a market comprehensively; and,
  • Identifying the usable acreage within all sites in a market and using it as a prospecting attribute.

How is this information used?

There are a variety of constraints that impact whether a property is suited for solar development and whether any individual acre within a site represents a viable development opportunity. Generally, renewable energy projects are more feasible viable and competitive if the host site is:

  • Absent major physical constraints (examples: floodplain, wetland designations, and/or critical habitat for species);
  • Largely flat (some topography may be fine);
  • Not broadly encumbered by existing rights-of-way, easements, and/or development restrictions.

Additionally, it is important to consider that most development projects must adhere to property boundary setbacks when determining the envelope of the solar layout.

Enter the 'GUDA' analysis….

One of the features of LandCommand™ is a series of proprietary scripts that were constructed to identify constraints within a site, identify specifically where those constraints sit within the property, and apply a series of setbacks off of the constraints, property boundaries, and/or easements to automatically estimate the area within the site that is 'usable'. The resulting deliverables from the 'GUDA' analysis include quantifying the usable acreage for each parcel, summarizing the number of contiguous usable acres (i.e. same individual or entity owning multiple abutting parcels), and producing geometry files that streamline initial solar layout designs.

Galehead has run this analysis and has these metrics readily available for each of the ~40 million parcels analyzed throughout the US.

What are the benefits?

The primary benefits of this analysis are as follows:

  • For Landowners: ability to “manage expectations” and focus landowner conversations early in the relationship to areas within their property that are best suited for development;
  • For Development Partners: ability to execute highly targeted campaigns in any US market to generate and de-risk prospect sites for development investments; and,
  • For Capital Providers: accelerate and de-risk early stage development investments and tighten pipeline conversion funnel.

While Galehead is primarily using LandCommand™ to support greenfield solar development, LandCommand™ is a robust land analytics platform and will support the analysis and origination of various types of infrastructure projects. Galehead will be leveraging these capabilities to support new campaigns in 2019.

Thanks for reading!

Example view of LandCommand™

 ‘Usable’ Acreage and Why It Matters

Work With Us

The success of the Energy Transition relies on collaboration. Reach out to explore how we can accelerate project development.