A new First Nations solar farm will be Manitoba’s largest when it starts operating in a few weeks - The National Today

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Fisher River chief David Crate CBC News The National Today | James Alexander Michie

Fisher River chief David Crate hopes to have most of the community using its own green energy within 20 years. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

It has been said that a new First Nations solar farm will be the largest in Manitoba when it starts operating in a few weeks. There is no doubt that getting a view from above in the sky is really the only way to appreciate the scale of what is about to be connected online at Fisher River Cree Nation, about 200 miles north of Winnipeg.

And it is well known that the community has raised more than $ 2 million in grants and loans to be at the forefront of the green economy. Thus, the complete set covers 2.5 hectares.

For his part, Chief David Crane explained that the community settled there more than a century ago to give the Northern Cree of Manitoba a start in agriculture, but the land was never so fertile.

Likewise, Fisher River will not be fed directly by these panels but will sell energy to the provincial network of Manitoba. But he hopes to prove that a community of this size can produce enough energy to be self-sufficient and be a player in renewable energy.

An opportunity for solar energy

Clearly, in the most remote places, that is very promising. Being that solar energy is growing in Canada. Even so, it is still a tiny contributor to our energy system. According to Natural Resources Canada, in 2017 it represented 2,911 megawatts, less than 0.5 percent of Canada’s total power generation.

There is no doubt that one of the greatest opportunities for solar energy is in places in Canada where power lines simply do not arrive. There are still some great challenges. The sun simply does not shine all the time, and reliability and energy storage remain problems.

However, the technology is improving and in fact, it has been shown that modern solar panels today work well in northern latitudes and in cold conditions, and while it needs more space for the panels to produce more energy, that’s something that many remote communities have in abundance.

So there is room in Fisher River for more than twice the size of the farm, and if the initial installation is a success, the next step may be to use solar panels to directly meet the energy needs of the community. As a result, it has been said that the moment the switch is turned on the Fisher River next month, it will be established as the largest solar array in Manitoba.

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Source: Jonathon Gatehouse | The National Today — CBC News

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