Posts tagged ‘Solar’

Solar Company Seeks Projects in Middlesex & Oxford Counties

A California company is prospecting for solar energy in Ontario, including six sites in Middlesex and Oxford counties. Recurrent Energy, based in San Francisco, has applied to install 49 megawatts of solar power in Southwestern Ontario. All told, Recurrent is looking to install 180 megawatts of solar power in 33 projects on 22 Ontario sites, said David Brochu, vice-president development for the Eastern Region of North America. “You’re probably talking $800 (million) to $900 million of total construction costs,” if all 33 were to be approved, Brochu said Tuesday from his office in Chicago.

Recurrent has applied for provincial approval for six area solar installations: one west of Strathroy; one between Delaware and Komoka, west of London; three east of London near Dorchester and Putnam; and one near Ingersoll.

Brochu hopes to receive word on Recurrent’s applications in about a month. To be eligible for subsidy under the Green Energy Act, renewable projects must have at least 40% or 60% Ontario manufactured content, the amount depending on whether they’re online before or after 2011. These applications say the company could start construction on approved projects late this year and have the solar arrays operating by mid-2011.

Southwestern Ontario has become fertile ground for solar applications of all sizes. The largest locally, and probably the largest on the continent, is First Solar in Sarnia, where 20 megawatts are online now and another 60 megawatts in the works. The “sweet spot” size for Recurrent is in smaller arrays of 2-10 megawatts each, Brochu said. That’s partly because the highest Ontario subsidies are for systems smaller than 10 megawatts and partly because smaller systems are more easily connected directly into transmission lines nearer to urban populations.

Several of the proposed Recurrent sites are identified as being on good agricultural land, when the FIT program requires poorer farmland only be used. That concerned Adelaide Metcalfe Mayor John Milligan during a Middlesex County council meeting Tuesday. “I don’t have a problem if it’s rock or gravel pit,” Milligan said in an interview. “Solar power, as far as we’re concerned, shouldn’t take prime agricultural land out of production.”

That’s also a view shared by neighbours to a proposed solar farm near Belmont who say First Solar should not be considering locating on some of the best agricultural land the region has to offer, even though it appears First Solar’s application predates the FIT program’s site criteria. But Brochu said Recurrent Energy proposals wouldn’t take good farmland out of production, as the topography on some sites would preclude farming.

He said the company has worked with soil scientists, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the Ontario Power Authority to winnow its sites to locations that would otherwise not be productive. One proposed site, near Thorndale, is reclaimed quarry.

Recurrent was recently named one of the 10 most innovative energy companies of the year by Fast Company magazine!



March 24, 2010 at 2:28 pm Leave a comment

Solar Panels Make Sense to Local Business Owner

As a businessman and industrial landlord, Dave Walden wants to make money. But after installing a 250-kilowatt solar system on the 75,000-square-foot rooftop of one of his leased buildings on Industrial Road in Cambridge, Walden hopes he will help the environment, while also being paid for producing energy.

The solar system was purchased from Canadian Solar Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of Canadian Solar Inc., a company that has moved its headquarters to Kitchener and is planning to build a solar panel manufacturing plant somewhere in Ontario, possibly in Waterloo Region, that could employ as many as 500 people. The interest is driven by a new provincial “feed-in-tariff” program, which pays building owners to produce power on their rooftops under 20-year contracts with the Ontario Power Authority. The program will pay 44.3 cents to 80.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity that is produced. By next year, the province will also require that 60 per cent of the content of solar modules be made in Ontario to qualify for the program. That is why Canadian Solar is now looking at sites for a manufacturing plant.


February 11, 2010 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

Solar Farm to be Built on Prime Agricultural Lands?

There is an open house set for this coming Wednesday in Belmont, and neighbours near the proposed site fear prime farmland will be lost.

Neighbours of a proposed solar farm just east of London are gearing up for a red-hot public meeting about the project Wednesday in Belmont.

The First Solar Canada farm would have as many as 330,000 panels converting energy from the sun into enough electricity to power 3,000 homes.

But some neighbours say it may be the right project in the wrong location. Barry Weaver, whose farm abuts the property, said productive land would be lost to farming for years. “The part that ticks me right off about it is it’s prime agricultural land,” he said. “I’m not in argument with building solar panels and wind farms, but they should be in their proper places.”

Peter Carrie, vice-president of the company, said Wednesday’s open house is not intended to be a company presentation but is designed so neighbours can ask questions of staff in a less formal setting. Carrie said the flyer neighbours sent out to 1,200 homes raises “a number of good questions and issues” — and those that aren’t already answered in the project report or in the supporting documents will be covered at the meeting and in greater detail in a subsequent report.

But the biggest question, some say, is whether the application falls under old provincial energy policies or under newer ones that suggest agricultural lands shouldn’t be taken out of production for renewable energy projects.


January 30, 2010 at 1:01 pm Leave a comment

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