Large-scale solar arrives in Quebec

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Power company Hydro-Quebec will build two solar parks with a combined capacity of 10 MW, the state-owned utility has told pv magazine.

The two installations, the French-speaking province’s first ground-mounted megawatt-sized solar plants, are intended to enable the utility to test PV technology “at the region’s latitude”.

The solar parks will have capacities of 7.5 MW and 2.5 MW and will deploy 36,000 solar modules, with the utility to invest around CA$30 million ($34.1 million). “Construction will start next summer and the project should be producing by August 2020,” the company said. “The goal is to put solar production to the test under our latitude, with significant amounts of snow falling and much shorter days during winter.”

Bifacial modules will be installed and tested at both facilities as “these could also capture reflection of light on snow,” added the power company.

Solar-hydropower-storage

The projects, the company added, will also offer the opportunity to analyze how the utility can balance solar power with its transmission lines and hydroelectricity. “For example, how can we make sure to send stable power on the lines if a day suddenly becomes cloudy?” added the company statement.

“We are also developing large-capacity batteries that will be able to stock power during the day and deliver it during our peaks, in terms of demand,” a company spokesperson said. “Because we mostly heat our homes with electricity, and not gas, our demand peaks are very high in January, one of the less [irradiated] months of the year here.”

Although Hydro-Quebec said it does not need additional capacity, it is considering solar energy to meet future demand. “In terms of [solar irradiation] … Québec is comparable with Germany and Japan,” the company said.

Hydro-Quebec is already supporting rooftop solar systems of up to 50 kW capacity under a net metering scheme.

The Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources in 2017 launched a 2030 Energy Policy that included solar and large-scale PV as options. The ministry said at the time, a pilot solar park would be built by Hydro-Quebec.