A $20 million solar farm in southern Alberta could be the first of many projects as Enbridge seeks to build renewable power projects to power its pipeline network.
By Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A $20 million solar farm in southern Alberta may be the first of many similar green power products developed across the country as Enbridge seeks to spend half a billion dollars on renewable power plants to power its pipeline network.
The southern prairies see greater than 2,400 hours of sunshine annually, compared to between 1,200 and 2,000 hours in the rest of Canada. It may not seem like it at times, but the prairies typically see some sunshine about 320 days every year.
The vast, open spaces of the northern plains continue to support a rich agricultural economy but, increasingly, that abundant sunshine is being harnessed to backstop a burgeoning solar power industry.
In late March, Enbridge opened its first solar self-power project in Canada between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Alberta Solar One, as it’s known, now supplies a portion of power to the Enbridge Mainline pipeline network, which includes the recently completed Line 3 Replacement pipeline.
The $20-million facility features 36,000 solar panels and has a capacity of 10.5 megawatts, equivalent to meeting the energy needs of about 3,000 homes and offsetting some 12,000 tonnes of carbon annually. By supplying Enbridge’s Mainline power requirements with renewable electricity, the solar farm displaces power generated from carbon emitters like coal-fired power plants.
“These types of projects fit into our larger growth plans to reduce emission intensity by 35 per cent and be net zero by 2050,” said Vern Yu, Executive Vice President and President Liquids Pipelines.
“To help get there, we’re using solar self-power to generate electricity for our operations, modernizing our systems to improve efficiency and advancing other technologies. While the new facility is the first of its kind for Enbridge in Canada, it’s part of a broader program the company is initiating to self-supply a growing portion of its energy needs from renewable resources.”
“This project is a win-win for Enbridge’s power team as we continue to grow our renewable energy portfolio and support Enbridge’s sustainability goals,” added Matthew Akman, Enbridge’s Senior Vice President of Strategy and Power. “We’re excited to see our first Canadian self-power project come online, and we will continue to invest in opportunities across North America that generate energy to power our operations.”
Including Alberta Solar One, Enbridge is looking at approximately 15 to 20 self-power projects for its liquids pipelines pump stations and gas pipeline compressor stations along the mainline, for a total potential investment of about $500 million.
By Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/The World-Spectator