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Turning power off to Solar Thermal Plant

MEDICINE HAT – After five years of operations as a research and development (R&D) innovation project, the Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) Plant located near Medicine Hat’s power plant won’t be operated this year.

The city is considering the future of the CST facility and options for the site itself, including the possibility of turning the site into a future innovation park for renewable energy.

“Medicine Hat took a bold step with the project, coming up with the idea at a time when gas prices were extremely high,” said Cal Lenz, Commissioner of Energy and Utilities in a press release. “Innovation takes valiant moves, and this project is certainly an example of the city’s leadership as we continually explore energy solutions.”

According to Cal Lenz, Commissioner, Energy and Utilities Division, the five years of R&D operations provided invaluable information regarding the feasibility of CST at 50 degrees north latitude in Canada. Having served this purpose and given the cost for continued operation, it was deemed best to lay it up at this time.

The project’s purpose was to determine how CST technology would perform in southern Alberta. It was commissioned in 2014 as an alternative energy partnership to look at operations, costs, maintenance and feasibility of this technology in a northern climate. The results would help determine the potential benefits and risks to broader CST implementation in Canada.

READ MORE: Edmonton developing world’s largest carbon-neutral neighbourhood

With its hours of sunlight and municipally-owned utilities, Medicine Hat was best suited to embark on this type of R&D innovation. The project has met all the criteria for information gathering over the last five years. The data has been submitted to Alberta Innovates.

“Innovation may not always lead to commercialization, but it does provide valuable information for further endeavours. These learnings will help advance the next evolution of cost-effective, energy saving initiatives,” said Lenz. “The provincial and federal governments chose our city to lead the project and foster learning about this technology, and this objective has been successfully achieved.”

It’s expected that the Energy and Utilities Division will bring options and recommendations for the CST and site to council by this fall.

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