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Canadian solar farm to quadruple in capacity

A 20 MW solar facility in the province of Ontario will expand to 80 MW to become the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) energy facility in North America.

Enbridge Inc and First Solar Inc will expand the Sarnia Solar Project from 20 MW to 80 MW, with total system cost of C$300 million for the expansion. When completed in the second half of next year, it is expected to be the largest solar PV energy facility on the continent.

The companies agreed in October that Enbridge would acquire the initial 20 MW project that First Solar was developing at the Sarnia site in southwestern Ontario. That project achieved full commercial operation on 7 December.

First Solar will expand the solar site for Enbridge under a fixed price engineering, procurement and construction contract, using its thin-film solar PV technology that has been deployed in 1500 MW of solar installations in the United States and Europe. The output will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority under a 20-year power purchase agreements under the province’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program.

The 60 MW expansion is expected to begin construction immediately, with 1.3 million modules installed by December 2010. At 80 MW, the 973,000 m2 Sarnia Solar Project will generate 120 GWh of renewable energy.

“With this investment, we will have interests in more than 470 MW of green power capacity from our five wind energy projects, expanded solar facilities, four waste heat recovery facilities and the world's first commercial application of hybrid-fuel cell technology,” says Patrick Daniel of Enbridge.

“Our increased investment in the Sarnia Solar Project maintains risk and return characteristics which are fully consistent with Enbridge's low-risk business model, and similar to our crude oil pipeline business.”

“Following on our recently announced wind energy project, the Sarnia solar expansion provides a good balance in our renewable energy portfolio between solar and wind,” he adds.

“Our recent investments in green energy projects in Ontario - including the 99 MW Talbot Wind Energy Project, our 190 MW Enbridge Ontario Wind Project, and the Sarnia Solar Project - are evidence of Enbridge's commitment to advancing environmentally preferred energy solutions, and of the value of the Ontario government's proactive support and encouragement of investment within the province.”

Enbridge operates the world's longest crude oil and liquids transportation system in Canada and the United States, and has a growing involvement in the natural gas transmission and midstream businesses, as well as carbon sequestration. It owns and operates Canada's largest natural gas distribution company, and provides distribution services in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and New York state.

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