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A mixed energy forecast - Sarnia solar facility $300-million venture

One of the world's largest solar farms will soon rise on Sarnia's outskirts, and other sun-reliant green energy ventures are in the works for sunny Southwestern Ontario. The Ontario government has approved an energy deal with OptiSolar Farms Canada to build a 400-hectare mass of solar panels that will produce 40 megawatts of electricity -- enough to supply 6,000 homes. A key to the project was the government's deal to pay 42 cents a kilowatt-hour -- nearly four times what's paid for other green-generated electricity, such as from wind turbines -- to the solar company.

One of the world's largest solar farms will soon rise on Sarnia's outskirts, and other sun-reliant green energy ventures are in the works for sunny Southwestern Ontario.

The Ontario government has approved an energy deal with OptiSolar Farms Canada to build a 400-hectare mass of solar panels that will produce 40 megawatts of electricity -- enough to supply 6,000 homes.

A key to the project was the government's deal to pay 42 cents a kilowatt-hour -- nearly four times what's paid for other green-generated electricity, such as from wind turbines -- to the solar company.

Expected to cost about $300 million, the farm with more than one million solar panels is expected to start producing electricity by 2010.

It's also understood the company is looking at other sites in Petrolia and Chatham-Kent.

Jack Gibbons, chairperson of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, called the Sarnia announcement "fantastic," noting it will help the province to phase out Ontario Power Generation's coal-fired Lambton power generating station nearby.

"Renewable solar is a 100-per-cent, pollution-free source of clean electricity," he said yesterday.

Over 25 years of operation, it's projected the reduction in... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

One of the world's largest solar farms will soon rise on Sarnia's outskirts, and other sun-reliant green energy ventures are in the works for sunny Southwestern Ontario.

The Ontario government has approved an energy deal with OptiSolar Farms Canada to build a 400-hectare mass of solar panels that will produce 40 megawatts of electricity -- enough to supply 6,000 homes.

A key to the project was the government's deal to pay 42 cents a kilowatt-hour -- nearly four times what's paid for other green-generated electricity, such as from wind turbines -- to the solar company.

Expected to cost about $300 million, the farm with more than one million solar panels is expected to start producing electricity by 2010.

It's also understood the company is looking at other sites in Petrolia and Chatham-Kent.

Jack Gibbons, chairperson of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, called the Sarnia announcement "fantastic," noting it will help the province to phase out Ontario Power Generation's coal-fired Lambton power generating station nearby.

"Renewable solar is a 100-per-cent, pollution-free source of clean electricity," he said yesterday.

Over 25 years of operation, it's projected the reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions from the solar farm will be the equivalent of taking 200,000 drivers off Ontario roads.

Traditional power generation from burning coal or oil causes heavy air emissions.

The solar move was hailed by Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley as a major step to transform the image of a city built on petrochemicals to become "an environmental leader."

Bradley predicted the solar farm will create plenty of construction jobs, but not many operating positions.

OptiSolar is the subsidiary of a California company that says it was lured by the amount the Ontario government is prepared to pay for solar power in a 20-year deal.

"The Ontario government has taken a world-leading role in encouraging the development of renewable energy," said OptiSolar vice-president Peter Carrie. "Our goal is to make solar power a mainstream energy source."

In Toronto, Ontario Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said the payment scheme is "transforming the way we generate electricity in Ontario" by adding power capacity while cleaning the air.

Long home to refineries, including one named after the sun (Sun Oil), Sarnia is working with its research park of the University of Western Ontario "to focus on bio-fuels and alternative energy and move away from the image the community had in the past," Bradley said. "This solar farm is a significant step in the greening of Sarnia-Lambton."

The farm will feed sun-generated power into the grid through municipally owned Bluewater Power. Construction will start next year.

Solar panels will eventually fill the site at the southeast corner of Sarnia near Modeland Road and Confederation Line. The panels will sit less than seven metres above ground level.

Production of solar power peaks at midday, prime time for consumption of power on hot summer days and cold, clear winter days.

The company said it uses a proprietary, thin-film technology and manufacturing process that makes it cost-effective to produce power.

Gibbons credited the McGuinty's government contracts for renewable fuel sources for making such ventures possible. "I think there will be lot more in the next 12 or 24 months," he said. "I think this is just the beginning."

Bradley said OptiSolar approached the city about eight months ago and was able to find a chunk of land already assembled by an industrial concern that had decided not to proceed with its plans.

"Our involvement was more as a facilitator," he conceded. "The deal with the province was the critical thing."

In talks with OptiSolar, Bradley said he learned it's looking at other sites in Petrolia and Chatham-Kent.

No zoning changes are needed for the first part of the project, said the mayor.

 



Source: http://lfpress.ca/newsstand...

APR 27 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/8524-a-mixed-energy-forecast-sarnia-solar-facility-300-million-venture
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