Western Canada’s first solar park secures financing – and will incorporate bifacial panels

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Canada’s minister of natural resources, Amarjeet Sohi, has announced the federal government will support the 23 MW Suffield Solar Project in the western province of Alberta, with $15.3 million (US$11.4 million).

The project, being developed by Chinese-Canadian module manufacturer Canadian Solar and its Suffield Solar LP subsidiary, will incorporate bifacial panels and solar trackers, the federal government added.

The funds for the $49 million project will be provided through Natural Resources Canada’s $200 million Emerging Renewable Power Program, which is aimed at expanding the portfolio of commercially viable renewable energy sources available to the country’s provinces and territories. The program, whose latest two rounds were announced in April, utilizes a mechanism similar to the contracts for difference (CfD) scheme in the U.K, which makes up any gap on market rates.

Displacing fossil fuels

“Alberta is Canada’s energy capital for oil and gas,” said John Gorman, president and CEO of the Canadian Solar Industries Association. “Now solar energy is becoming a new source of jobs and investment for the province.”

A statement by the association added: “The bifacial solar modules will increase efficiency of energy generation by 10-15% and improves on grid reliability in the winter months, despite snow cover.”

Once complete, Suffield Solar Park will be the largest PV facility in western Canada, and one of the largest in the country.

Alberta is supporting rooftop solar through its Residential and Commercial Solar Program. In November, the provincial government decided to increase the $36 million budget by another $7.5 million, to meet growing demand. The new funds were intended to help Alberta municipalities develop solar projects through the Alberta Municipal Solar Program.