Enbridge completes Sarnia solar farm

Enbridge says it has completed the expansion of its solar energy facility in Sarnia, Ont., to create the world's largest photovoltaic solar farm.
Enbridge Inc. operates the largest photovoltaic facility in the world, in Sarnia, Ont. ((Dave Chidley/Canadian Press))

Enbridge Inc. announced Monday that it has completed the expansion of its solar energy facility in Sarnia, Ont., to create the world's largest photovoltaic solar farm.

With 80 megawatts of output, the site now generates enough energy to power more than 12,000 homes. Originally a 20-megawatt facility built by previous owner First Solar Inc., the operation was upgraded by Enbridge to 1.3 million solar modules across 943,000 square metres as part of its push to get deeper into green energy.

"Our investments in green energy are an increasingly important part of Enbridge's business" Enbridge vice-president Al Monaco said. "Over the last year, we added four new projects."

First Solar will operate the southwestern Ontario facility on behalf of Enbridge on a long-term basis, the two companies said.

"It's not just an environmental issue, it's an economic issue," said Frank DeRosa, a vice-president with First Solar. "We will have severe economic dislocation in our agriculture, in our land use, in our water use; really in every facet of our economy. So projects like this are the first step in addressing that."

Steve Nagy of First Solar walks through rows of solar panels at the Sarnia solar project. ((Dave Chidley/Canadian Press))

Enbridge, Canada's largest natural gas distributor and a major North American oil pipeline operator, said its renewal energy assets generate almost 850 megawatts of power from an array of solar, geothermal, wind, and garbage-heat-recovery sites.

More than $400 million was invested in the Sarnia expansion, creating 800 jobs, the government of Ontario said.

"It is projects like this one that are making us a leader in renewable energy and helping us all move towards a cleaner energy future," said provincial Energy Minister Brad Duguid, who was on hand for the site's official opening.