Timon Singh

Worlds Largest Solar Plant Now In Ontario, Canada

by , 10/01/10

Sarnia solar project, enbridge, first solar, sarnia largest solar plant

Canada may not be the first place you would guess to have the world’s largest photovoltaic facility. In fact, if this writer was asked he’d have opted for somewhere notoriously sunny such as Saudi Arabia or Australia. However, it was announced this week by Canadian firm Enbridge Inc. and Arizona-based First Solar Inc. that the 80-megawatt Sarnia Solar Project was not only opening, but it was now the largest operational PV plant in the world. Who’da thunk it?

In times when every country is trying to diversify its energy supplies, it is refreshing to see Canada step up to the plate with such a large scale project. The Sarnia Solar Project, which sees 1.3 million First Solar modules spread over 950 acres of land, has the potential to supply the energy needs of up to 12,800 households.

Not only is the renewable energy put into the local power grid, but the construction of the plant itself was also done using the latest sustainable methods. According to Enbridge, the construction project created 800 jobs and in an effort to make as little environmental impact as possible, no water was used during construction and no waste was created. As such, the entire project was designed to have minimal visual impact on the surrounding area and construction workers made sure that minmimal noise was made so as to not disturb the local wildlife.

The Sarnia project is actually the expansion of a current 20 megawatt plant that reportedly cost $300 million (Canadian) to expand into a 80 megawatt facility. What is most interesting about the project though, is Enbridge’s involvement. Traditionally the firm is a large oil and gas pipeline manufacturer, who famously had a large oil spill in Michigan, however this attempt to embrace renewable forms of energy appears to show they are weaning themselves off fossil fuels, and that can only be a good thing.

To put Sarnia’s accomplishment into some context, the largest solar photovoltaic project in the United States is the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Florida, which is rated at 25 megawatts. Meanwhile the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, the largest in the country, is only rated at 2 megawatts. However, the UAE is currently developing a 100 megawatt plant, so Sarnia’s record might not be theirs for long….

+ First Solar

Via Sunpluggers

Lead images from First Solar

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5 Comments

  1. solar-power-phoenix March 10, 2012 at 3:10 am

    That is Huge!!!!!!!

    I am a student of Science and I am researching on Solar Powers usage on different countries. Your post or information helps me a lot. Also, I got some tremendous knowledge of solar power in phoenix at http://www.americanpv.com/solar-power-phoenix.php

  2. United States' Largest ... December 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    [...] it is nowhere as large as Canada’s 80MW Sarnia Solar Project (which is the world’s largest PV plant), the US has just opened the country’s largest [...]

  3. US Government Approves ... October 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    [...] that Canada! Just last month our neighbors to the north were known as the country with the world’s largest solar power plant, but now the USA is set to eclipse the 80MW Sarnia Solar Project with a 1,000MW (1GW) installation [...]

  4. WasteofMoney October 5, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    $300M to upgrade 60MW at 20% yearly true (12MW) utilization = $25,000kw. VERY expensive. Won’t power 12,800 home when it is dark, cloudy, raining or at an unoptimized solar alignment. Without the FITs this is uneconomical and would never be built.

  5. stop killing the desert October 2, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    A few points.

    Firstly, SUNNY AND COOL is far better for PV production, so Canada and Germany are great locations, as is ALL of the United States.

    Secondly, since there is NO economy of scale with PV, bigger is not better. 20 5 kW installations on south-facing rooftops will produce exactly as much power as a single 100 kW installation in a similar location. There is a small savings in labor, but with 1BOG or other consolidators, democratically-owned PV is roughly the same price as Big Energy owned PV, except when WE own it, we don’t have to pay Big Energy a profit margin, so the power is cheaper to everyone.

    The most interesting thing happening in Ontario is their FEED IN TARIFF, which is the policy that the US needs immediately. Not cheap, wholesale garbage, which is what we get now, but a robust, unlimited, serious FIT so WE can enjoy the economic benefits locally, without killing off ecosystems which could be providing ecosystem services to us.

    Rooftop solar, even though it is price-competitive with (and puts out as much power as) Concentrating Solar Thermal, creates twice as many jobs, so any “premium” we might pay for rooftop solar goes directly into LOCAL, well-paid job creation, not Big Energy executive bonuses, like Big Solar. This is extremely important, alongside the property value improvements, because our LOCAL economies are what need a boost – corporations are rich and getting richer already, but there is no benefit to the other 99% of us with Big Solar.

    Local, point of use solutions within the built environment, supported by a feed in tariff, will go a VERY long way towards solving climate change, Big Energy monopolies, clean air, jobs, Main Street stimulus, home values and civic engagement. Big Solar does none of these.

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