Canadian Solar subsidiary plans 100 MW solar project on tribal lands


Aspen BC Solar Project LP, a subsidiary of Canadian Solar, plans to build a 100 MW solar-plus-storage project near the Okanagan Connector in British Columbia. The project is expected to generate 203 GWh per year, or enough to power approximately 20,000 homes.

The Aspen Solar and Energy Storage project is sited within the traditional territory of the Nlaka’pamux and Syilx Nation peoples.

Okanagan Connector shown in red.

Aspen Solar has an agreement-in-principle with the Lower Nicola Indian Band, which will appoint a representative to be part of the Aspen Solar project team. Currently in the design stages, Aspen Solar will connect to an existing BC Hydro transmission line. The provincial utility company delivers electricity to 95% of the population of British Columbia and serves over five million people.

According to the initial plan developed by Canadian Solar, the project is compliant with the British Columbia Clean Energy Act, which states its goal “to generate at least 93% of the electricity in British Columbia from clean or renewable resources and to build the infrastructure necessary to transmit that electricity.”  The act also states that power development should create jobs and “foster the development of Indigenous nations and rural communities through the use and development of clean or renewable resources.” The government of British Columbia’s plan, called CleanBC, calls for reducing climate-changing emissions by 40% by 2030.

The current design for Aspen Solar calls for the installation of 620 Watt solar panels mounted on single-axis trackers. The modules will be connected in series to 4.2 MW (AC) inverter transformers. The project will include a battery energy storage system (BESS), which will store excess energy for use during peak evening, nighttime load hours, or for emergency use.

The planned BESS is intended to help the region cope during times when hydroelectric production is down due to recurring drought conditions. In addition, Canadian Solar pointed out in its preliminary plan that the time when the solar resource is the greatest is complementary to the winter seasonal peaking profiles of hydro and wind power, providing energy security and resilience to the region.

The initial project plan was approved by the BC Environmental Assessment Office on May 2. A 30-day public comment period must be held within 90 days of the approval.

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