Canada's Suncor submits proposal for 240 MW of solar PV

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Suncor, Canada’s largest producer of oil sands, has explored the possibility of opening up a solar portfolio after submitting a system access service request to the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) for the development of 240 MW of PV.

The proposal comprises plans to develop three 80 MW solar PV plants in the province, as well as up to 440 MW of wind power. Suncor already has 287 MW of wind power capacity under its belt, but so far – despite the company’s name – it has yet to develop any solar PV capacity.

In 2015 there was a short-lived plan to develop a 24.5 MW solar farm in Ontario with Canadian Solar, but that project fell through.

This latest interest in solar PV represents a broadening of Suncor’s horizons, which have come to include more and more renewable energy in recent years.

"Renewable energy is an important part of the global energy mix as we work toward a sustainable energy future," said Suncor Spokesperson Nicole Fisher.

The spokesperson added that talks are in the preliminary development stage, and if the proposals are accepted the three solar farms are expected to be connected to the grid by March 2018.

Currently, Alberta has a meager 9 MW of solar PV capacity installed, making the proposed addition of 240 MW a significant development for a province that has thus far embraced fossil fuels as its chief, and cheap, source of energy.

In February, Alberta introduced a new solar initiative designed to kick-start the province’s solar power sector. The program offers rebates of up to $0.75 per watt of solar power generated by municipalities and farms, and is backed by $5.5 million in funding from the government, which has targeted a 30% renewable energy goal by 2030.