Tŝilhqot’in Solar Farm
The Tŝilhqot’in Solar Farm is the first large-scale solar plant 100% owned and operated by a First Nation in Canada.
The Tŝilhqot’in Solar Farm is located in the Chilcotin (BC-Canada) on the brownfield site of a former sawmill. To date, it is the largest solar farm in operation in BC. The electricity generated is sold to BC Hydro through a long-term contract. The plant is 100% owned and operated by the Tŝilhqot’in Nation (TNG). It was also nearly 100% assembled by members of all the six Tŝilhqot’in communities: Tl’etinqox, ʔEsdilagh, Yuneŝit’in, Tŝideldel, Tl’esqox and Xeni Gwet’in
The project demonstrates the interest and capacity of Indigenous communities to develop their own renewable energy facilities. It illustrates also the outstanding solar resources in the BC Interior. The installation of this solar farm in the North of BC improved the knowledge on how to deal with the tough conditions of the BC interior: high latitude, rocky ground, harsh winter, grid interconnection and remoteness.
The Tŝilhqot’in Solar Farm is an innovative project with many “first”:
- The first large solar PV power plant 100% owned and operated by a First Nation in Canada.
- The first redevelopment of a former sawmill into a solar plant (the brownfield-to-brightfield concept).
- The first large scale solar plant installed at high latitude in Canada (52°N).
- The first large scale solar plant installed by a team entirely composed of Indigenous workers.
The system has 3,456 high performance Hanwha mono CSPV modules totalling 1.25 MWp DC and 16 Schneider inverters totalling 1 MWac (1.25 DC to AC ratio) It is designed to produce over 1,300 kWh/kWp/yr 90% of the time (P90). The fixed racks tilt is 40°. This unusual angle compared to the standard 30° helps optimize the exposure to the sun at high latitude and facilitate snow shedding. The system produces over 1.5 GWh per year as proven by monitoring the operation over more than a year.
The solar plant is connected to mid-way of a 250 Km long distribution line (D-Line). It is unusual for a distribution line serving many users to have such a long span that limits the capacity and affect its stability. Connected mid-way, the Tŝilhqot’in Solar Farm strengthen up that weak power line and and improve its capacity.
While located in a region with lower solar irradiance than SunMine, the Tŝilhqot’in Solar Farm demonstrates the feasibility of solar energy in most part of BC.
EcoSmart did the initial concept, feasibility study, solar resources assessment, preliminary and final design. We helped TNG to raise the capital through private financing and funding funding. Then, on behalf of TNG, we managed the project implementation: Final design, training indigenous workers and management, RFP, selecting equipment and engineering support ( geotechnical, structural, electrical), construction management, commissioning, development of the O/M plan and training of local Indigenous O/M technicians.
EcoSmart also managed the interconnection process with the local utility (BC Hydro): Preliminary evaluation, Energy Purchase Agreement (EPA) negotiations, System Impact Study (SIS), Facility Study (FS , NetMetering design, Project Interconnection Requirement (PIR), and finally the Distributed Generator Interconnection Agreement (DGIA) that allows the Tŝilhqot’in Solar Farm to connect to the grid and sell its power under BC Hydro Standing Offer Program (SOP)
For the Tŝilhqot’in Solar Farm project, the Tŝilhqot’in Nation received the “community of the year 2019” award from Clean Energy BC.