Who knew? World’s largest solar PV plant is now in Ontario

In the realm of solar, you’d kind of expect the title of “largest” to go to sunny and hot places like, say, California or Arizona or Nevada, or some sunny place in Europe or the Middle East somewhere. Nope — that title goes to Ontario, at least for today. First Solar announced today that it has completed the final phases of its Sarnia solar power plant and that the facility now ranks as the largest solar PV plant in the world. The plant is owned by gas and pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. — you know, the guys who had the big oil spill in Michigan. The press release says it is an 80-megawatt plant, but over at PRResources.com it ranks the project first at 97 megawatts. Not sure what the deal is there. But even at 80 megawatts it’s still 33 per cent larger than the second-largest plant, which is in Olmedilla, Spain. The next largest in Canada, ranking 24th worldwide, is the 23.4 megawatt facility in Arnprior, Ontario.

I remember it was just a few years ago when it was a big deal to see 1 megawatt of solar installed across ALL of Ontario, let alone single projects.

10 thoughts on “Who knew? World’s largest solar PV plant is now in Ontario”

  1. Great news! Keep it up, Ontario. I just co-authored an article discussing reasons why clean energy innovators everywhere should be taking a close look at Ontario. The article is called “Establishing A North American Clean Energy Beachhead” and here is a link for anyone interested — http://www.orrick.com/fileupload/2986.pdf

  2. I guess it was the Arnprior plant that I stumbled across last spring, outside of Ottawa. Definitely was a surprise.

    I have some misgivings about farmland being used this way, but at least it’s not permanent, and it’s much more energy-dense than biofuels, apparently. I wonder what the price of PV/acre is compared to the price of wheat or whatever–are the incentives set in such a way that it’s still more profitable to keep the better-producing farmland under food crops? I suppose you could have sheep or goats patrolling the area for weed control, but I’m guessing they’ll just soak the land with herbicides instead.

  3. It’s an impressive feat, but does it sound like a good investment?

    Eric, since we use more energy in society to refrigerate food than to grow it, maybe it’s not a bad use of farmland 🙂

  4. FYI according to Wikipedia the world’s largest solar power plant is not PV. It uses “Parabolic Trough” technology in which parabolic mirrors heat oil filled tubes.

    “The largest operational solar power system at present is one of the SEGS plants and is located at Kramer Junction in California, USA, with five fields of 33 MW generation capacity each.”

    (Tyler: my bad, I should have been more clear this was PV only. I’ll make correction in the post).

  5. Actually, Eric, the Ontario FIT program on which these installations are based requires that the land used for solar production is banned on Class I II and III farmland for this size project. This means that only very poor existing farmland can be used, so they’ve already thought that angle through. The Ontario incentives are actually very well designed and should establish Ontario in the solar world now that Germany and Japan have peaked the industry. This will be very good for Canada when the U.S. finally catches on.

  6. I applaud trying new energy. Germany is backing off its fit.

    One has to ask. Would I rather have a provinical park or hospital or safer road or food for th hungyr or jail proofing or cleaner energy, with the difference of price between 5 cents a KWH and 82 cents a kilowatt hour. If the government pays a big company that pollutes rivers $1 billion to have solar pv, would I rather have had at provincial park. Give me the park. The only think that might persuade me, is that it may be, this will allow some developer to find a truly effective solar technology.

    finally, I am not persuaded solar generate IR, is any different from other IR, we will heat the planet, we will just change the method from green house to radiator.

  7. Just a belated thank you, Tyler, for last Monday’s Clean Break article in the Toronto Star. In your ‘Energy program a good fit for Ontario’ you did the public a great favour for putting things in perspective.
    The tiny percentage of solar PV especially won’t even make a ripple in anyone’s electricity bill! Too bad, opponents are working hard to confuse the public.
    Keep up the great work,

  8. Big Deal, wait until Enbridge’s proposed pipelines destroy entire ecosystems, communities and lives in Canada, what will a few mega watts of clean power do to counter those irreversible effects. Sure they say the pipelines are safe but that’s just PR, enjoy your lives and love those around you while you still can.

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