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Federal government announces $160 million investment into Alberta-based solar projects

Posted on July 19, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News

Several solar farms in southern Alberta will benefit from a cash injection from the federal government.
The announcement was made on July 11 by Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources. The federal investment, which exceeds $160 million, will help fortify solar energy production at nine solar power projects across the province. The programs announced on July 11 will expand upon earlier investments into the Prairie’s solar sector.
The funding will see the federal government partner with Indigenous communities, workers and industry to deliver clean energy products. The announcement by the federal government highlighted the “immense potential” of Alberta for solar power generation, which combined with ambitious Indigenous partners, skilled workers and other community partners, “is powering a surge in clean energy development in the region.”
The collaboration between Concord Green Energy, a subsidiary of Concord Pacific, and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) has resulted in the development of three photovoltaic solar farms in southern Alberta. Spanning across approximately 480 acres, these solar farms are a significant step towards increasing Alberta’s renewable energy production, alleviating strain on the electricity market, and aiding the country in achieving its climate change targets.
Several solar arrays located in Lethbridge and Vulcan Counties are benefitting from the funding.
Over $45 million in support will benefit a partnership between the Subsidiary of Concord Pacific Group Company, Concord Green Energy and ACFN. Under the partnership, three distinct projects will receive funding which will support the deployment of a 15 MW/34 MWh battery energy storage system on each of the three sites of existing solar arrays at each location. The Concord Monarch Partnership, Concord Coaldale Partnership, and Concord Vulcan Partnership will each receive $15,289,001 from the federal government’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program (SREPs).
Net income generated across each of these projects will be split equally among the ACFN and Concord Green Energy. Spending of project income earned by the ACFN will be based on direction and input from the First Nation’s elders and members at large to fund job training for members in green energy systems, fund affordable housing initiatives and fight against food insecurity in Fort Chipewyan, and expand ACFN’s off-grid solar program. These Monarch, Coaldale, and Vulcan projects are expected to create over 100 new jobs.
Lethbridge County’s Reeve, Tory Campbell said, “It is exciting and encouraging to see federal support for solar projects in southern Alberta, as well as a commitment to creating innovative, sustainable energy solutions. As global demand for energy increases, we understand the importance of renewable options. We also see value in having a diversity of industries as part of a prosperous future for Lethbridge County and look forward to the continued innovation from the businesses that choose to locate here.”
Cardston Spring Coulee Solar L.P., in partnership with Evolugen will receive over $5.5 million to support the Spring Coulee Solar project, in Cardston County, Alberta. The project will increase renewable energy capacity and grid services in Alberta and is anticipated to add up to 145 total jobs, and boost tax revenue and local supply chains in the community.
Other project sites receiving supports are located in Cypress County, Vulcan County, Starland County, and Métis Nation Region 3, and Three Hills.
According to the announcement, the funding of these projects will foster economic growth and create hundreds of job opportunities while significantly boosting the clean solar power sector, while simultaneously facilitating the deployment of 163 megawatts (MW) of new solar generation and 48 MW of battery storage capacity.
Minister Wilkinson also highlighted the investment’s role in reducing emissions and supporting environmental sustainability, estimating the energy generated by solar technology is equivalent to removing nearly 47,000 gas-powered cars from the road annually.
A Government of Canada press release said the Indigenous-led solar energy and battery storage projects, “are a critical part of Canada’s energy future, which includes a growing clean energy industry,” and represents a, “crucial step towards economic reconciliation,” through the generation of clean and accessible/affordable energy while creating jobs with environmental sustainability in mind.
In addition to the $160 million in supports for solar projects in Alberta, the SREPs will provide up to $1.5 billion to fund electrical grid modernization and renewable energy projects over eight years.

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