Sunday, April 29, 2007

North America's biggest solar farm set for Ontario

Work on North America's biggest solar power plant will start next year in Ontario, the Canadian province's energy minister said on Thursday.

Once complete in 2010, the 40-megawatt project, near Sarnia in southwestern Ontario, will be able to supply enough emission-free electricity to power up to 24,000 homes.

Currie would not disclose how much it will cost to build the project, but said typically a project in a 10 megawatt range would cost up to C$80 million.

The solar farm will stretch across nearly 365 hectares, and about one million panels will be erected as high as 7 meters off the ground. Currie said the company plans to begin building the solar farm in spring 2008.

Ontario pays solar power generators 42 Canadian cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity, a key reason OptiSolar chose to build its project in the province.

The Ontario Power Authority has agreed to purchase the electricity under a 20-year contract that will see the power go into the provincial grid.

The solar farm project is part of 14 new, renewable energy projects awarded through Ontario's Standard Offer Program, which sets a fixed price for small renewable energy projects.

The program is expected to add up to 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy to Ontario's electricity supply over the next 10 years.

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