Opinion: Epcor solar farm offers greener energy and community benefits

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Residents and visitors to our city will interact with the site as they walk and cycle by using the expanded river valley trail network. They’ll learn about solar energy and the history of the area from our interactive displays, and see students studying the system.

The solar farm will truly be a place for education and sharing for trail users, students, researchers and Indigenous communities. Much of this learning will come from creating a smart grid, which is achieved by connecting the solar panels directly to the water treatment plant and a battery storage system.

Together, these elements can generate and store renewable power close to where it is used, making the plant more resilient and better able to serve Edmontonians for years to come. This could not be realized if the solar farm was built at any other location.

Having this smart grid in Edmonton will provide an innovative and multi-faceted green project that will make us a leader in clean-energy generation. It will offer unique research and learning opportunities with post-secondary institutions like University of Alberta and NAIT. This would not be possible at a standalone offsite solar farm.

Being part of Epcor’s solar farm project team has been transformative for me. So many aspects have made it so — the technical design, environmental and archeological considerations, and meaningful community conversations and engagement that have enhanced the project.

While the project details are strong, we hope it will be the social connection, research opportunities, educational value and community benefits of the solar farm that capture Edmontonians’ hearts.

Trina Manning is Epcor’s senior manager of capital projects at Edmonton’s water treatment plants and a member of the E.L. Smith Solar Farm project team.

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