New solar project helps supply power to Enbridge pipelines

With 320 days of sunshine a year, Alberta is one of the sunniest provinces in the country with about half of its daytime hours in the sun. To harness this energy source, Enbridge recently installed 36,000 solar panels to build a its first solar generation facility in Canada, approximately four kilometers west of the hamlet of Burdett, Alberta.

Known as Alberta Solar One (ABS1), the 10.5-megawatt facility will supply a portion of the power needed for Enbridge’s Canadian Mainline crude oil and liquids network. The facility, which entered service in April 2021 after construction started in the fall of 2020, will help the company reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and help it achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

“These types of projects fit into our larger growth plans to reduce emission intensity by 35 per cent and be net neutral by 2050,” said Vern Yu, Enbridge’s Executive Vice President and President of its Liquids Pipelines business. “To help get there, we’re using solar self-power to generate electricity for our operations, modernizing our systems to improve efficiency, and advancing other technologies.”

By supplying its Canadian Mainline power requirements with renewable electricity, the solar power facility will displace power generated from carbon emitting sources such as coal. ABS1 is expected to supply the equivalent energy needs of about 3,000 homes, offsetting about 12,000 tonnes of carbon annually. Later this spring, about 50 grazing sheep will be brought into manage the grass growth onsite at the project.

In the U.S., Enbridge’s New Jersey-based Lambertville Solar Project offsets a portion of the electric load at a nearby compressor station, and helps power the compressor units that keep natural gas flowing along our cross-continent Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline. Their Heidlersburg Solar Project in Pennsylvania will do the same when it enters service later this spring.

“This project is a win-win for Enbridge’s power team as we continue to grow our renewable energy portfolio and support Enbridge’s sustainability goals,” says Matthew Akman, Enbridge’s senior vice president of strategy and power. “We’re excited to see our first Canadian self-power project come online, and we will continue to invest in opportunities across North America that generate energy to power our operations.”

ABS1 was co-developed by Enbridge and Morgan Solar, a Canadian solar technology company.

In addition to advancing Enbridge’s self-power initiatives, the project will also help to commercialize Morgan Solar’s SimbaX proprietary performance boosting solar technologies that delivers more energy per kilowatt installed, boosting the panel’s energy production. ABS1 is the first utility-scale application of this technology. The panels were manufactured by Silfab Solar.

“To go from a design space exploration to a utility scale order, backed by a 30-year warranty, in less than two years is unheard of in this industry,” said Hugo Navarro, vice-president of finance at Morgan Solar and co-developer of the project.

Morgan Solar’s SimbaX technology uses optical films to redirect otherwise discarded light onto the PV cells to boost generation. This project is a significant validation of Morgan Solar’s approach to commercializing technologies.

“Our strategy is to apply our expertise in designing light management solutions using only proven materials and industry standard manufacturing processes and working with credible established supply chain partners like Silfab, and market leaders like Enbridge. I call this approach ‘T-innovation’ and the result is innovation that is low capex, bankable and immediately scaleable,” said Mike Andrade, CEO of Morgan Solar.

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) committed $10 million in funding to help Enbridge and Morgan Solar co-develop the $20 million project. Additional support was provided by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

“In the context of ongoing energy market, technology and regulatory volatility, ERA’s steadfast support was instrumental in bringing the project to fruition,” said Navarro.