Solar energy farm one step closer to reality

Kneehill County resident Gordon Snell, left, and Three Hills resident Edna Kary interview
ATCO reps Shad Bendiak, from Calgary and Drumheller’s Patrick Charron at the Three Hills
Community Center Sept. 20 about the company’s joint venture solar power project with
Samsung. ECA Review/D. Nadeau

A 14-member ATCO–Samsung team descended on the Three Hills Community Center Thurs. Sept 20 for an open house.

According to government regulator expectations, such a community consultation is an essential step in getting approval for the consortium’s proposed Kneehill 2 solar generation facility north of Three Hills.

The open house previewed the project timeline, hopefully operating early in 2020 following a construction phase that could take nine months.

Located on a quarter-section of agricultural land, SW 13-32-24 W4M, the project could use as many as 100,000 solar panels to generate enough annual power of 44,000-megawatt hours to service about 6,000 average households.

Project Manager Shad Bendiak of Calgary said initiating the facility is subject to regulatory approval.

In 2016, the Alberta government announced its intention to reach a 30 per cent renewable power target by 2030.

Last month, Alberta Infrastructure issued a tender to procure 75 megawatts of solar capacity to power government facilities.

ATCO and Samsung are working together to bid the Kneehill 2 project into the program.

The government makes its decision in December.

Those at the open house who asked about facility noise were told there is not much more operating noise than rustling leaves or a library. The site, located in a high sunlight area of Kneehill County, will be fenced.

The panels full of solar cells work by collecting solar radiation from the sun and actively convert it to electricity. When solar cells are exposed to sunlight, energy is generated from photons that strike the surface of the solar panel and allow electrons to be released.

Electric fields in the solar cells pull these free electrons in a directional current. When light shines on a cell, it frees electrons, creating electricity.

A map of the project reference area in relation to nearby communities such as Three Hills,
Trochu and Linden. ECA Review/Submitted


D. Nadeau/T. Huxley

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