Mining the Sun
SunMine was the first large-scale solar farm built in western Canada. It is located on the Teck Mine brownfield site in Kimberley BC. at 1,200 m altitude near the Rockies. This pioneer project was developed through a partnership between Teck, the City of Kimberley and EcoSmart. The electricity generated is sold to BC Hydro via a long-term contract..
The project demonstrated the benefits of redeveloping industrial brownfields into solar farms – the brownfield to brightfield concept. By reusing legacy infrastructures (road, electrical grid, and sub-station, it transformed a liability into an asset.
The solar farm has has 96 double-axis trackers, 4032 PV modules and 32 distributed inverters. The electricity produced is sold to BC Hydro under a “Standing Offer Program” (SOP) contract. The interconnection is done via an existing sub-station owned by Teck.
SunMine’s performance is amongst the best in North America (2000 hr/yr) thanks to a combination of high altitude (1,200 m), high solar irradiance, low ambient temperatures (improving the modules thermal performance) and innovative double-axis trackers that position the arrays continuously in the best direction to capture the light.
A Pioneer Project
SunMine has been an extremely innovative project advancing nine “first”:
- The first large solar PV power plant west of Ontario.
- The first redevelopment of a former industrial site into a solar plant (the brownfield-to-brightfield concept) in Canada.
- The first solar plant owned and operated by a municipality in Canada (the City of Kimberley).
- The first Canadian solar project actively supported by a mining company (Teck Resources).
- The first BC Hydro execution of an Energy Purchase agreement (EPA) with a solar farm.
- The highest solar project in Canada (at an altitude of 1,300m).
- The first large scale application in Canada of solar trackers (automatically positioning the PV modules for an optimum exposure to the light).
- The first application in Canada of distributed inverters (vs. the traditional central inverter) to improve performance and reduce maintenance costs.
- The first application in Western Canada of 1,000 Vdc (Direct Current Volts) string – compared to the Standard 600 Vdc – to reduce cost in electrical equipment and copper.
High altitude, low temperature, south-facing hill, solar hotspot, SunMine is located in optimal conditions. The energy yield is further increased by the use of double-axis trackers. As a result, SunMine has one of the best performance in North America: over 2,000 kWh/kWp/yr
High Performance > 2,000 kWh/kW/yr
Square Daily Profile
EcoSmart created the initial concept outreaching both Teck and the City of Kimberley to form a partnership for bringing the project to successful completion.
We provided also the following services:
- Feasibility study, solar resources evaluation, preliminary and final design.
- Design and operation of a two-year on-site monitoring to confirm satellite data and increase confidence in the project feasibility.
- Support to public consultation organized by City of Kimberley.
- Contribution to the raise of capital by securing $1,000,000 government funding for the project.
- Preparation of specifications and RFP documents; management of the RFP process and EPC selection together with Teck and Kimberley.
SunMine received five awards.
- Engineers Canada National Award for an Engineering project or achievements.
- Clean Energy BC (CEBC) Community of the year
- Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (EGBC) sustainability Award
- Clean 15 award
- The 2015 Community Excellence Award for Leadership and Innovation in Green Initiatives from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM)
Engineers Canada National Award for an Engineering project or achievements
Clean Energy BC Community of the Year Award
Engineers and Geoscientists of BC Sustainability Awards
Clean 50 Award
UBCM Community Excellence Award for Leadership and Innovation in Green Initiativ
Videos & Press News
“SunMine is an innovative use of a former mine site and is an excellent example of a collaborative partnership supporting sustainable, vibrant communities. Our interest in SunMine also reflects Teck’s commitment to alternative sources of energy.”— Don Lindsay, President and CEO, Teck
“This is exactly the type of forward-thinking project the ICE Fund was created to help support. The City of Kimberley and the EcoSmart Foundation should be proud to be installing the first B.C. grid- connected solar plant on a brownfield mine site. The “synergy” involved in the project, with reclaimed mine land being used to house a modern energy project: has a very important, symbolic importance,”— Bill Bennett, Minister of Mines and Energy, BC Government
“ I see SunMine as not only the first larger-scale solar project to sign an agreement with BC Hydro, but also as the incredible story of a project that offers new life to a former contaminated mine site that has been fully reclaimed by Teck: To create something green like a solar farm out of a remediated and reclaimed mining site, that’s a first in Canada“— Dina Matterson, Program Manager, BC Hydro Standing Offer Program
“Knowledge and experience gained from this innovative project will help develop local skills and make solar energy a viable option for B.C.’s generating portfolio. The solar energy potential in B.C. – and in particular, in the East Kootenay – is exceptional. Let’s put it to work.”— Michel de Spot, President and CEO, EcoSmart