Ontario’s Canadian Solar has decided it will sell power on a long-term contract from the new Suffield Solar power facility to Alberta’s utility retailer Direct Energy, the company announced recently.
Canadian Solar Inc., signed an agreement for the purchase of electricity from its 32 megawatt Suffield solar facility with Direct Energy, which is one of North America’s largest energy-related service providers.
“We saw a focusing shift in Canada towards Alberta,” said Ryan Tourigny, head of development for Canadian Solar in Western Canada.
“Alberta has very open regulations and a very strong solar energy resource. We saw this merging of cost reduction in solar energy to point where it became competitive with other sources. You could sign on for an off-take contract. An off-take contract is very important to attract other investors.”
Tourigny says very early on Canadian Solar identified Direct Energy as an innovative party.
“A lot of what we’re doing in our development work is to showcase innovative approaches and innovative equipment,” he said.
“In terms of this off-take contract, Direct Energy is showing similar innovation in their structuring and their approach to the contract. It was a very natural fit with Canadian Solar to work with Direct Energy to complete this electricity agreement.”
This is the only Canadian Solar- signed contract for the Suffield facility, he added.
The Suffield project is anticipated to be the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities in the province when it enters operations in 2020.
“We’re excited to be having Canadian Solar to be developing in southern Alberta with a world class resource,” said Tourigny.
“The southern Alberta area, with its solar resource, it’s an excellent opportunity to develop and put that together with some exceptional landowners and it’s a real ideal location for us.
“This project will also help us showcase the most advanced available technology that we’re confident will continue for more investment in Canada’s solar industry.”
Canadian Solar’s high efficiency BiKu modules that will be used on the project will offer many advantages when compared with traditional solar panels. The electricity production from both sides of the solar panel will allow for an increase in both total energy generation and reliability during the winter months. The Suffield project will also employ single axis trackers which will allow the solar arrays to follow the suns trajectory throughout the day, which will maximize energy production.
While details of the contract weren’t released, the agreement is expected to last the majority of the life expectancy of the solar farm.
It was announced in January that the project was awarded $15.3 million in funding through the Natural Resources, Canada’s Emerging Renewable Program.
The Suffield project, which is located 10 minutes west of the hamlet in Cypress County will employ 250 people during construction and will power approximately 7,400 households annually once it’s operational in 2020.