Prairie Post (West Edition)
Battery storage builds in SE Alberta could total $1B in construction value
Three large-scale battery storage utility projects could be built in southeast Alberta over the next three years, according to Greengate Power, the developer behind the projects valued at well over $1 billion in total.
The company is now operating the largest solar power facility in Canada at Travers in Vulcan County.
“We’re really reaching an explosion in solar and wind development,” said David Whitehead, a director with Greengate.
“There are several gigawatts of projects in the queue (across the sector). The next few years will see tremendous growth and tremendous buildout. (Southern Alberta) is an attractive place to build renewables, and we’re going to see that stir for the next few years.”
This month, Greengate applied to utility regulators to build its “Jurassic Solar” project near Dinosaur Provincial Park. That’s the first “solar-plus” project of the company that has three in development. A public feedback process with the Alberta Utilities Commission is now open until Oct. 17.
“Midnight Solar” would be built north of Redcliff in Cypress County, and the much larger, two-phase project “Luna Solar” near Brooks.
Taken together, they would create upwards of 500 construction jobs in the region over the next four summers and, once complete, provide up to $2 million per year in tax revenue to each of the counties involved until at least 2055.
The first battery-storage renewable facility in the region is now being completed at Chappice Lake with Elemental Energy’s relatively small 14-megawatt solar array coupled with 8.4 megawatts of storage.
Jurassic’s battery capacity would be 10 times that at 80 megawatts.
The trend is moving toward coupling production and storage, said Whitehead.
“Most of our projects will involved future projects will include some battery storage – our current thinking is the industry is trending towards that,” he said.
Sector analysts say storage could capture intermittent green power production, evening out the flow on to the grid or shifting production from periods of lower prices to higher ones.
That could take the peak off prices on the Alberta gird, while the province has said battery storage could even out supply peaks and delay the need for costly power line upgrades.
The Jurassic facility, comprising 1,170 acres of private land about 12 kilometres southwest of Jenner, would involve 443,000 panels capable of producing 220 megawatts of solar power. That would be coupled with an 80-megawatt lithium-ion battery facility and substation capable of handling the entire 300 megawatts.
Most of the land lays in Special Areas No. 2, though one quarter-section sits in Cypress County.
Midnight, sited on private land 10 kilometres north of Medicine Hat on Box Springs Road, would see the total production plus storage capacity be 465 megawatts.
The tentative application timeline would begin in early 2023, according to Whitehead, with construction through the following year.
Similarly, the company would like to see the first phase of Luna before regulators by the end of 2022.
Estimates given to Cypress County during a 2021 meeting with Greengate vice president Dan Tocher pegged the cumulative cost to build Midnight and Jurassic at $1.2 billion. Resulting tax revenue for Midnight would be $2.2 million per year for the 35-year lifespan of the facility, he said. That equates to roughly 10 per cent of Cypress County’s annual property tax revenue.