ATCO has energized Western Canada’s largest off-grid solar project, located at the Saddle Hills Telecommunication Site northwest of Grande Prairie. This groundbreaking system is capable of generating 75 kilowatts and storing 250 kilowatt hours of energy and will provide 100 per cent of the power required at the isolated and unmanned site, which is an integral part of ATCO’s telecommunications network.
“This is just one example of how ATCO is finding opportunities to economically reduce our carbon footprint while exploring innovative clean energy solutions for our customers,” said Paul Goguen, Senior Vice President & General Manager, ATCO Electric Transmission Division. “Through this project, we have gained valuable insight into the application of off-grid solar solutions that is directly transferrable and scalable for our customers in other sectors.”
The telecommunications site, which needs its own source of energy in order to function, was previously powered by propane thermal electric generators. As the generators neared the end of their life cycles and the need for power at the site grew, ATCO had a vision for a cleaner and less expensive way to keep the site up and running – solar energy.
With a cooler climate and fewer hours of daylight at the site, we needed to ensure its solution was both technically viable and cost-effective. ATCO partnered with the Alternative Energy Program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) through NAIT’s Alternative Energy Capstone Project to address the technical challenges of building and maintaining solar panels in a remote northerly location.
The project is the latest in a growing suite of clean and innovative solutions offered by the company. The launch of ATCOenergy in February of this year brought more choice to Albertans, including green energy options for its customers. ATCOenergy customers can choose either 25 per cent or 100 per cent of their electricity to come from renewable sources. ATCO also continues to explore a range of renewable and low-carbon energy technologies for residential and business customers.