Even if you never took Economics 101, you likely still know that the price of something goes up as it becomes more rare. Solar is no different and land rental rates increase if good sites are hard to find at a regional level. Natural land constraints can limit supply. Take, for example, Florida with wetlands and high insurance rates near coastlines. Or, Virginia where the western part of the state is mountainous and the eastern part is urban and coastal. Another factor to consider is how long solar has been happening in your area. In more mature markets like southern California, the best sites may have been taken while excellent sites are more likely to still exist in emerging solar states like Illinois or Texas. Lastly, the robustness of the transmission system can reduce supply; sites will be fewer in spots where the grid is aging and overburdened.
On the other side of the solar land market is the demand from developers for sites in an area, driven largely by the market size for renewable energy, electricity prices and the cost to develop. Top states for utility-scale solar include California, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Utah, Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont and Illinois although development is quickly expanding across the entire country as solar prices decline. The more buyers of renewable energy in your state – utility companies or big corporations like Wal-Mart or Google – the higher the demand for land. Besides being able to sell solar energy readily at a good price, developers naturally care about their costs. The lower the development barriers, the higher the demand for land. For example, demand may be lower in California due to the onerous permitting processes and higher in the Southeast because of cheap, non-union labor. Large generator transmission studies are a couple hundred thousand dollars across Texas (ERCOT) and the Southeast (SERC) but are even higher in states like Minnesota, Illinois, Arkansas and Louisiana (MISO).