Solar energy systems used for the collection and connection of the sun's rays into energy, and for heating and cooling purposes require clear access to direct sunlight. Without access to direct sunlight, over a sufficiently large "access pattern" and for a sufficient length of time (approximately from nine o'clock in the morning to four o'clock in the afternoon), no solar energy system can function effectively.
The "access pattern" for sunlight to the collector or solar pane located on the property is three-dimensional. Sometimes it is referred to as the "solar skyspace."
Methods For Assuring Solar Access
Solar access can be established through one of these methods:
- Zoning and subdivision regulations.
- Building code requirements.
- Subdivision covenants established by the developer.
- Solar easement legislation.
- Appurtenant solar easement.
Solar Access Easements
Solar easements are negative easements as to air space. They are created by developers or by private agreements between adjoining owners for the benefit of property upon which there has been or is being constructed a solar collector of heat energy from the sun.
The draftsmanship of solar easements require, in addition to legal knowledge, a considerable amount of technical expertise (engineering, architecture, surveying, etc.).
Usual underwriting principles and caveats applicable to the insurance of appurtenant easements must be followed and in addition, local statutory requirements, if any.
The insurance of a solar access easement, as appurtenant easement to the land on which the solar energy is located is an extrahazardous risk for the Company. Prior approval should be obtained from the Company before attempting to insure a solar access easement.
(See "Easements" 5.00)