Cleaner ways of generating power is a priority for the City of Saskatoon (the City). As part of the Low Emissions Community Plan (LEC Plan), the City aims to reduce its own emissions by 40% below 2014 levels by 2023 and 80% by 2050. One way to help achieve these goals is through clean power generation, such as solar energy. The long-term plan is to support the Saskatchewan power grid's transition to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Dundonald Avenue Solar Farm
Currently, Saskatoon Light & Power (SL&P) buys most of its electricity from SaskPower, which uses fossil fuels. The Dundonald Avenue Solar Farm, a 2.2 megawatt solar power project, will enable SL&P to generate renewable electricity to the power grid for their customers in addition to the 1.6 megawatt Landfill Gas Generation Facility, which was commissioned in 2014.
The Dundonald Avenue Solar Farm will lower annual power emissions by approximately 1,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is comparable to removing 400 cars from the road.
What is a Solar Farm?
A solar farm is a large collection of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. These panels absorb the sun's energy, convert it into electricity, and send the electricity to the power grid.
City Council set aside a parcel of land (Parcel M) for solar development. An additional right-of-way immediately south of the parcel has also been included. (Click map for larger version.)
The 14 acres of land between the CN railway tracks and the new Circle Drive South freeway has no commercial value and will be used for the project. This land has excellent sun exposure and is near existing underground electricity lines.
The generated power from the Dundonald Avenue Solar Farm will be tied directly into the main power feed to Montgomery Place. Click on the Images tab to see renderings of approximately what a solar farm in this location would look like.
The City will continue to look for locations and opportunities to generate solar energy to meet its goals.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be $4.2 million. The City has been approved to receive $2.5 million of funding from the government for this project. With this funding, the project will pay itself back in 11 years due to reduced purchasing of electricity from SaskPower.
Stantec Consulting Ltd. conducted a feasibility study in 2021 regarding a potential solar farm at the proposed location. The following is a summary of their findings:
- a south facing, ground-mounted, fixed-tilt solar PV farm of approximately 2.2 megawatts size is technically and financially feasible, and environmentally and socially sustainable;
- connecting a solar farm to the existing utility grid would be fairly straight-forward;
- a review of the potential for glare on residential and commercial neighbours, roadways, and flight paths was completed, with impacts found to be insignificant and within acceptable limits;
- a review of the potential sound impacts was completed, with impacts found to be insignificant for the surrounding area;
- the existing slope and topography of the site is suitable for solar implementation;
- storm water drainage and run-off would stay the same as it is now;
- some site clearing would be required to remove poorly maintained trees and railway poles that are no longer in use;
- an existing service road from Dundonald Avenue will be used to access the site;
- the site will be fenced with a gate and not be open to the public;
- equipment, which would be located near the electronic billboard, would likely include a step-up transformer, a Saskatoon Light & Power switch, and a cabinet for some monitoring and control equipment;
- landscaping to improve the aesthetics of the area and reduce site maintenance will be considered; and
- the operational life of the solar farm will be about 30 years.
In addition, the City has been running a solar demonstration site just south of the proposed location for a few years and has data that helps with determining the feasibility of solar power generation in the area.