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New Nanticoke Solar facility taking shape

 New Nanticoke Solar facility taking shape

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At OPG’s Nanticoke site, work is well underway to transform the former home of Ontario’s largest coal-fired station into the company’s first ever solar power facility.

Crews have cleared the grounds near the decommissioned Nanticoke Generating Station and construction is progressing on the new Nanticoke Solar project. When the solar farm is up and running by the spring of 2019, it will be capable of generating 44 megawatts of clean, renewable power for the province.

A total of 192,431 solar panels will be installed on the former coal yard and adjacent agricultural lands, spanning a total area of 158 hectares. So far, more than 9,000 panels have been put in place.

The Nanticoke Solar facility will be in operation spring 2019.
The Nanticoke Solar facility will be in operation spring 2019.

​“This is OPG’s first solar installation, so it is a big learning experience for our organization. However, we’re working with very experienced contractors,” said Matt Sikstrom, Project Manager for Nanticoke Solar, which is being built with OPG’s First Nation partners.

To build the expansive solar farm, more than 20,000 helical piles – long, steel anchors – are buried two metres into the ground. Metal racking is then installed onto this solid foundation. Finally, thousands of photovoltaic panels, with an average rating of 345 watts, are mounted onto the racks. Electrical equipment required to connect these panels to the provincial grid – things like transformers, breakers, AC-DC inverters, and protection and control equipment – will also be installed.

Once in place, the panels will convert sunlight into electricity, with the whole site controlled by a protection and control building located in the substation.

One of the biggest challenges facing the project has been dealing with the sheer number of solar panels. “Logistically, it has been a challenge just getting all the panels delivered to the site,” Sikstrom said. “You can only get so many loaded onto a truck and delivered each day.”

Despite the challenges, Sikstrom is confident the team and knowledgeable contractors involved will get Nanticoke Solar up and generating renewable energy for the province on budget and on time by March 2019.

Fast Facts

  • The solar panels at Nanticoke Solar don’t require much upkeep – just plug in and generate
  • Access roads for the site were built using concrete from the Nanticoke smokestack demolition
  • At Gull Bay First Nation, OPG is helping to install solar panels as part of a micro grid project