First unsubsidized solar parks announced in Canada

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German renewable energy company Innogy SE – a unit of Germany’s energy giant RWE – will deploy two large-scale solar parks in the Canadian province of Alberta.

In a statement to pv magazine, Innogy said its aim is to sign a long-term power purchase agreement for the projects and its commercial team is working intensely on that with confirmed interest from potential off-takers. The possibility of selling power to the spot market is being considered a fallback option if private PPAs do not materialize, Innogy said, adding: “We are confident that the projects are profitable either way.”

In a previous statement, Innogy had said it intended to complete construction this year. The plants – Prairie Sunlight II and III – will have capacities of 30 MW and 27 MW, respectively, and will be near the town of Vauxhall, in southern Alberta.

Innogy this month acquired the rights to build the projects from Solar Krafte Utilities Inc.

Alberta coming up on the rails

“In 2017 we joined forces with Solar Krafte and [it is] the perfect partner to build up a substantial solar portfolio in Canada,” said Thorsten Blanke, head of solar business at Innogy. “Together, we aim to develop solar projects with a total capacity of up to 1,000 MW.”

Innogy unit Belectric will provide engineering, procurement and construction as well as operations and maintenance services for the projects.

If built, the Prairie Sunlight projects will be Canada’s first PV plants developed without public subsidy or procurement.

With Ontario having dominated Canada’s solar scene for years, Alberta is emerging as a rival in the bid to be the nation’s leading solar province. Last week, the Alberta government announced finalization of a public auction which assigned 94 MW of utility-scale solar capacity and delivered a surprisingly low average final electricity price of $0.048/kWh (US$0.036). The allocated capacity consists of three large-scale projects that will be built by Chinese-Canadian manufacturer Canadian Solar.