Canada’s largest off-grid solar and storage project in Fort Chipewyan is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.
Work has been ongoing since the project was announced in early 2019 and received a combined $7.8 million from the provincial and federal government.
Fort Chipewyan isn’t connected to Alberta’s electric grid and has been relying on burning diesel fuel for heat and power.
President of the Solar Farm Calvin Waquan tells Mix News this will ensure the community has power at all times.
“With having a backup of green energy, green electrons going onto our grid, we don’t have to use so much of our reserve of diesel in the summertime. When the green light on at the plant it will tell us that green electrons are fully giving us our energy.”
The solar system will consist of roughly 7,500 panels that will replace the equivalent of 800,000 litres of diesel fuel.
This equates to supplying 25 per cent of the community’s energy use.
“We don’t want to be on diesel reliance for the rest of our time here, we have to transition to a climate-friendly economy,” added Waquan.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation, and the Métis Local 125 each own 33 per cent of the farm.
Waquan says the three have decided the majority of funds will go back into the community.
“We need to be investing in food sustainability, waste management, bioheat, but I think where it starts with community engagement and education.”