Renewables pioneer Daniel Moroko isn’t an engineer or climate warrior — he’s a property negotiator.

Working with farmers and project developers, he brokers deals for one of the most hotly contested aspects of the energy transition — land.

The founder of Australia’s first renewable energy land acquisition agency, Daniel has secured four gigawatts of big batteries and 800 megawatts of solar farms over 30 individual agreements across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

His deals have so far reached $61 million, with some farmers getting almost double the value of back paddocks as Australia heads towards a mostly renewable-powered grid by 2030.

He says the sector is “really, really booming” as developers scramble to get their hands on big battery sites.

The landowner for a battery energy system being built on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula had to wait two-and-a-half years for approvals because of red tape but received almost double what his place is worth.

“The values can climb quite dramatically, which is really good for some people,” Daniel said.

“A lot of the time they can get 1.5 or double what their place is worth because it’s a renewable energy development rather than someone just selling a vacant parcel.”

He also helps developers if an easement is needed through a neighbouring property but requirements for big transmission lines are government-run.

Federal Nationals leader David Littleproud has slammed the renewable energy rollout as “pure insanity” and says no project should be above scrutiny “especially when it involves prime agricultural land”.

He insists the bush is full and wants big solar restricted to large arrays on commercial buildings in Australia’s cities.

But Daniel knows farmers are giving up excess or marginal land, not prime grazing areas.

“In my experience, and I’ve done 30-plus deals, is that if it’s really good grazing land, it’s a ‘no’, because the money they get from grazing will be on a par if not higher than what they get for a solar farm,” he said.

“If you’ve got excess land or back paddocks you don’t use, you can get lease terms with a solar farm generating income every month for 20 or 30 years.”

There’s “huge demand” as governments wake up to the fact they need multiple battery energy storage sites to capture abundant sunshine and release excess back into the grid to meet peak demand.

“Lots of people say ‘no’ they’re not interested but then if their neighbour is keen, they’re really interested so they’re not left out,” Daniel said.

“They want to be the ones benefiting financially.”

They’re happy to have a renewable energy project on land they can’t see from their porch, he added.

While big battery sites must be fenced off for safety reasons, sheep can graze through solar farms.

Farmers can also negotiate a pretty good deal for maintenance of solar projects, which is also beneficial to them and the community who provide the labour for above-market rates, Daniel said.

Many farmers have big parcels of suitable land and make a million dollars a year leasing out 800 to a 1000 hectares while others can do the same with a smaller portion, even just 20 hectares, and still earn six figures.

Farmers for Climate Action polling across Central Queensland, NSW’s Hunter and Illawarra found widespread support for renewables in the regions.

This followed a survey of farmers in December which found only one per cent saw transmission requirements as the top threat to their farm, while 55 per cent nominated climate change as the greatest threat to their farm.

“Income during drought is vital when you’re trying to run a family farm and renewable energy delivers that,” Farmers for Climate Action chair Brett Hall said.

Typical payments being offered to farmers by wind companies are now more than $40,000 per turbine per year and many host dozens of turbines while still running sheep or cattle.

Asked about noise, one survey respondent said the only sound was the “ka-ching” of the cash register with every turn of the blade.

Solar companies are offering farmers around $1500 per hectare per year rent and they often continue to run sheep under the panels.