Roughly 100 acres of native reservation land in Thunder Bay, Ontario will soon become a solar park in an agreement between Fort Williams First Nation and SkyPower Limited. Once operational, the project expects to be the first and only solar park built on First Nation land in Canada. Predicting 10 MW of output a year, the solar park will not be able to supply a large area, but will have the capacity to power just under 1,000 homes a year.
Upwards of 45,000 solar panels will be installed for the project, construction of which is set to start within the first quarter of 2011. Hoping to complete production by the end of summer, the solar park is projecting twenty years of use and growth, estimating around one hundred jobs will be created from development and maintenance.
SkyPower has started similar projects across the country, including a larger joint venture with SunEdison [pdf] that will supply the Ontario Power Authority. The prairie spaces of Ontario are home to several solar parks, including the world’s largest – the Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant, which can generate 80 MW of power by using over one million solar panels.
Although solar power technology at the moment is not able to generate as much output as other forms of renewable energy, such as wind turbines, the construction and operations of solar panels is somewhat less environmentally invasive, making First Nation communities a great partner in Canada’s continuing goal of lowered greenhouse gas emissions.