13 Apr Check Out Canada’s 1st Concentrated Solar Thermal Plant
Canada’s very first concentrated solar thermal power plant is about to begin full-scale operations in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and the entire country’s energy industry will never be the same! This one-megawatt plant consists of massive concave mirrors which direct sunlight onto consistent points in order to generate huge amounts of heat, which is then used to transform water into steam and thus propel an electricity-generating turbine. Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston, who has long been a proponent of solar power, has a rather comical analogy he likes to use to explain how the new thermal plant works: “[Remember] when you were a kid and you had a magnifying glass, and you focused it and you burnt ants? Well, that’s what this is.”
While it may come as a surprise to some that Canada’s very first large-scale solar thermal plant would be built in oil-rich Alberta, locals have long understood the region’s strong potential for harvesting solar power. In fact, Medicine Hat is actually the sunniest city in all of Canada, boasting even more hours of sunshine per year than Miami! Calgary isn’t far behind, and even cities further north like Edmonton have solar power potential far above the national average. As strange as it may seem right now, it isn’t a stretch to imagine the oil patch some day being a major source of solar power for the entire continent.
Needless to say, not only is Medicine Hat making good use of its geographic potential, it is also helping to diversify Alberta’s all-important energy industry and protect the environment by switching to sustainable power sources as well. This mixture of economic strength and good environmental stewardship is a principle we have long believed in here at Solar Quote Canada, and we’re always glad to see big projects like this put it into practice on such a massive scale. Come the official opening of this solar thermal plant on June 21st of this year, we’ll definitely be celebrating here in our office! Be sure to check out the video below for a tour of the facility and a more in-depth explanation of how it works, as well as how it came to be.
Photo by David Dodge, Green Energy Futures.