World’s largest solar PV farm opens in Ontario

5 Oct 2010

The 80MW Sarnia photovoltaic project aims to power 12,800 homes in Ontario when operating at full capacity.

Enbridge, a Calgary-based energy and pipeline firm, teamed up with First Solar, an Arizona-based manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and provider of solar solutions, to create the Sarnia Solar Project, which the companies claim is the largest operating photovoltaic facility in the world.

First Solar constructed the facility using its advanced thin film solar panels, which are spread across more than 380 hectares at the facility.

Energy generated at the Sarnia facility will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

“Completing the world’s largest PV power plant demonstrates the migration of solar PV toward utility scale,” said Frank De Rosa, First Solar’s senior vice-president of North American project development. “With this project, we expect to install 145 MW this year in North America.”

In addition to generating about 120,000 MWh per year of emissions-free power, the Sarnia Solar Project produces no waste and uses PV technology that was designed to create the smallest carbon footprint of any PV technology available, said Enbridge in a statement on its website.

Sarnia was originally a 20MW site built by First Solar, but Enbridge bought the project from the company last year for US$100m. Enbridge then boosted Sarnia’s capacity to 80MW this year, investing US$300m in the process.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic