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Canada announces monster solar plant

40MW from one million panels

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Canada has announced it will build North America's biggest solar power plant - a 40MW project covering 365 hectares with around one million solar panels, Reuters reports.

The monster installation, slated to go operational in 2010 near Sarnia in southwestern Ontario, will provide juice for up to 24,000 homes. Ontario energy minister Dwight Duncan told a press conference: "This is an exciting development in Ontario's quest for cleaner power and in our efforts to minimize our ecological footprint."

The plant will be constructed by OptiSolar Farms Canada Inc., a subsidiary of California-based OptiSolar Inc. The former's vice-president Peter Carrie enthused: "Solar electricity is just about everything we could want in an energy source. It's clean, you can tap into it wherever and whenever the sun shines. It's quiet, sustainable and Earth-friendly."

Carrie wouldn't, however, disclose the budget, but said "typically a project in a 10MW range would cost up to C$80m".

The Optisolar plant forms part of "14 new, renewable energy projects awarded through Ontario's Standard Offer Program", projected to inject up to 1,000MW into Ontario's electricity supply over the next decade. The Ontario Power Authority offers 42 Canadian cents per kilowatt-hour for green electricity, and has inked a 20-year deal with Optisolar to take its output for distribution through the provincial grid.

Ontario's giant sun trap will dwarf a similar initiative announced in Portugal last year, which weighs in at a mere 11MW from 52,000 panels covering 60 hectares. ®

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