One of the great things about Saskatchewan is the abundance of sunny days. Sure, temperatures might dip well below freezing for much of the winter, but even when it’s cold out, the sun is still shining.
That shining sun might soon be put to good use in Estevan. That’s because there are plans to create a solar power plant near the town that would provide clean energy to business and residents. There is the added bonus that the industry would create more jobs for the residents in the area.
Estevan is one of three sites that SaskPower is considering for implementation of solar power to add to its energy sources. The small but vibrant city is high on the list for a number of reasons.
First, the area around Estevan gets a lot of sunlight, making for optimal solar intensity. In fact, Estevan has one of the highest percentages of sunlight not only in Southern Saskatchewan but in the country. According to statistics gathered from 1981-2010, Estevan clocked a yearly average of 2404 hours of sunshine over an average of 324 days each year. Since solar panels capture and store the energy from the sun, a place like Estevan would be the perfect fit for the technology.
Estevan’s chances were also bolstered because there is infrastructure already in place that would be an easy match for a solar power system to connect to, meaning that the the overall costs would remain low. SaskPower’s has an existing substation that would make it an easy, cost effective interconnection for the potential solar power plant.
Finally, the progressive community responded well to the idea and welcome the prospect of clean, low impact energy. Estevan is a unique place in the province and it’s residents know that it is a great place to live. It has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the province and the average family income is an amazing 114 per cent higher than the national average, at $143,460 a year. Having even more business and job opportunities would be welcome in the city.
If the project goes through, SaskPower would initially add 10 megawatts to the power supply through solar energy, with another 10 megawatts proposed for the future. Another 20 megawatts would be added through a partnership with the First Nations Power authority and a further 20 megawatts would be created through various community based partnerships. The total 60 megawatts of power would be added to the provincial power grid within the next five years, and the project would be completed by 2021.
The power plant would be built on a 70 acres of land and would provide the community with a new industry and more job opportunities for residents. As the focus in the country and around the world shifts from fossil fuels to renewable, clean energy sources like solar power, the project is good news for the people of Estevan. It will put the spotlight on the city as other places turn to to Canada to lead the way in clean energy.
This wouldn’t be Estevan’s first foray into clean energy projects. It is also known for its unique carbon capture initiatives, with the province building the Boundary Dam Carbon Capture facility. This technology is somewhat new to the world and has the potential to help minimize the effects of burning fossil fuels.
But with the focus now on solar power, the residents of Estevan and the province will be able to boast about further clean energy opportunities. SaskPower will make its final decision as early as sometime in December.
Solar energy is gaining in popularity around the world, especially in places where sunshine is abundant and free. It seems that Estevan would be the perfect place for this exciting project and the city is looking forward to reaping the benefits like added jobs that would come from a new solar power plant.