The country’s largest off-grid solar farm is officially up and running in Fort Chipewyan.
A grand opening was held on Tuesday for the multi-million dollar project which will supply around 25 per cent of the community’s energy use.
Director of Strategic Advisory Service with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Jason Schulz says this project will help the environment as it does Fort Chipewyan.
“Given the bottlenecks of limited winter road and access to the community, something had to be accomplished in terms of how do we meet the needs of electricity in the community.”
Fort Chipewyan isn’t connected to Alberta’s electric grid and has been relying on burning diesel fuel for heat and power.
Trucks would transport diesel to the community through the winter road, however, the community can only be accessed by plane and boat during the warmer months.
The solar system consists of roughly 5,700 panels and will replace the equivalent of 800,000 litres of diesel fuel.
Work officially began in early 2019 with the provincial and federal governments providing a combined $7.8 million for the farm.
“We welcome your determination in building the energy capacity to reduce the community’s reliance on diesel, to reduce pollution,” added Seamus O’Regan, Federal Minister of Natural Resources.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation, and the Mtis Local 125 each own 33 per cent of the farm.
The three communities have partnered to create ‘Three Nations Energy’ which will operate the 2.2-megawatt solar farm.
Meanwhile, Kelly Piche, member of the Board of Directors of 3NE, says plans are in place to use revenue from the farm to pay for community education around clean technology.
“We know that if we fill [youth] with all kinds of clean technology information there the ones who are going go home and tell mom and dad do you know this is happening and we could be doing this, we could be doing that.”