Canada’s largest indigenous-owned solar farm has just opened in the community of Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta.
By supplying 2.2 megawatts of solar electricity for three First Nations tribes, it will decrease the community’s dependence on the diesel plant that has supplied them for decades.
Jointly owned by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the Mikisew Cree First Nation and the Fort Chipewyan Metis Association, Energy of the three nations was established to generate low-cost, low-carbon energy to help mitigate climate-related threats and decrease dependence on and unreliable diesel tanker truck deliveries.
“We worked together and made it happen,” Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam said Tuesday in a COVID-limited celebration of the completion of the second and final phase of the project.
“We work with the sun, we work with the wind, we work with mother nature and we work water for the children of the future, to give them a better life, a cleaner life.”
A community of just 1,000 people, until now, Fort Chipewyan obtained the three million liters of diesel needed a year from fuel trucks that braved icy roads that melt in summer or from river barges.
The 5,760 solar panels will contribute about 25% of the community’s energy demand, but being in the sub-arctic, the hours of daylight in winter are few, meaning that solar energy is slightly less reliable than in most other places.
The renewable energy it generates will be equivalent to about 800,000 liters of diesel, or 2,300 tons of CO2, saving 25 tankers the 220-kilometer (124-mile) trek from Fort McMurray in the south along dangerous ice roads.
“This is a very proud moment for all of us as a community. We have worked very hard together these last few years. ” said Blue Eyes Simpson, vice president of the Fort Chipewyan Métis Association.
The state and federal government helped contribute to the $ 7.6 million project, which is also the most remote solar farm in the world.
“Indigenous peoples must have a stake in resource projects if there is to be a healthy future for our vital resource industry,” he said in a prerecorded congratulations by Rick Wilson, Alberta’s Minister of Indian Relations.
(CLOCK the video below to learn more about the new solar farm).
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