Construction begins on massive solar farm

ARTHUR, ONTARIO - Construction is expected to start this spring near Sarnia, Ont., on North America's largest solar energy farm that should be partially operating and generating about 10 to 20 megawatts of electricity by the end of the year.

Peter Carrie, vice-president of OptiSolar Farms Canada which is based in Arthur, said in a recent interview that the Sarnia project will consist of six, 10-megawatt sub-projects.

All six are expected to be in operation by 2009-10, he added.

As well, the company has purchased land in nearby Petrolia, Ont., for a smaller, 10-megawatt venture, and another operation is in the planning stages for a site near Tilbury, Ont., east of Windsor.

Those two sites are not as far advanced, but when completed, all three are expected to generate about 100 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 15,000 homes.

According to the company's website, each sub-project contains thousands of solar panels, aimed to gather maximum sunlight and mounted in rows which are grouped in arrays. Each solar farm consists of many arrays spread over up to 102 hectares of land.

The solar farms make little noise aside from a hum near the transformers used for delivering the solar farm's electricity to the grid. The panels used by OptiSolar Farms rise about three metres above the ground.

Solar farms are most effective in the summer, when electricity demand peaks in Ontario to power air conditioning.


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