June 2017 marks two full years since the largest solar facility in BC became operational.
During the first full financial year in 2016 revenue was $179,006 or 88.4% of projections and energy generation was 87.4% of forecast generation. Production was impacted by smoky skies during the summer and a wetter than normal fall. 2016 expenses were $55,203, 72% of budgeted. Debt payments were $125,626 and there was $32,105 in the SunMine equipment reserve at the end of the year.
SunMine continues to generate substantial publicity. There have been over 16,000 unique visitors to the project website and over 2,000 media articles since installation, including a recent story from CBC business news that was featured on the national newscast about the potential use of solar on other decommissioned mine sites .
There have been some technical challenges. Spring 2016 four of thirty two (4 / 32) inverters failed due to a circuit board manufacturing defect that was covered by warranty and which the City received $14,544 from business interruption insurance coverage before the situation was remedied in October.
Spring 2017 seven of ninety-six (7 / 96) vertical elevation motors failed just off warranty. They will be replaced for $11,444 and the City is working closely with the manufacturer to address condensation found in the motor housing which caused the malfunction. Despite that, dry sunny weather this spring and summer 2017 boosted energy production above projected output.
From June 2015 to June 2016 SunMine produced 1915 MWh, 98.6% of expected energy, and earned $195,700, which was 91.6% of expected revenue. During the first year less than $30,000 was spent on operating and maintenance, less than 58% of what was expected. The most significant variances were avoiding having to clean the panels. Dust is being cleaned by precipitation, with the snow scouring affect taking care of bird poop.
The other major variance was a decision not to contract-out SunMine maintenance and operation at an annual cost of $30,000. Instead maintenance is being performed by City electricians with the expertise of the electrical engineer who acted as the Owner’s Engineer and Payment Certifier during construction, who advises on technical issues City electricians are not qualified to troubleshoot.
We expect operating costs to rise marginally in the future because the first year of operation was covered by a labour and materials warranty. During the first year warranty repair work was completed on 2 solar panels that were lost during a windstorm because they had not been installed correctly and one tracker motor. The 32 inverters, which have a 10 year warranty with ABB, were treated to a circuit board upgrade but not before 4 failed and are being replaced under warranty.
Recently the City spent $36,000 to create an inventory of spare parts that will be available to swap out with. Each component of the system is under warranty but the spare parts inventory will ensure minimal downtime while the warranty repair work is being completed.
Awards, recognition, and publicity continue
One of the objectives of SunMine was to raise the community’s profile as a sunny, innovative community and this has proved to be a great success. Fall 2015 Mayor McCormick was a feature presenter on SunMine at the CivX Lower Mainland Local Government Conference.
In 2015 SunMine and its partners were honored with:
In 2016 SunMine received:
Most recently we have been honored by:
1,096, people have toured the facility, including students from the local elementary, middle, and high school, as well as College of the Rockies and Selkirk College. 178 media articles have been published since construction was announced. The project video has received 4,111 unique views, and sunmine.ca has seen over 13,000 unique visitors.
SunMine has been presented with a prestigious award from the Engineers Canada: the National Award for an Engineering Project or Achievement. This is in addition to:
- Following the first 19 months of operation SunMine has begun to yield concrete results:
•Direct local construction labour:
–29 locals with 7.5 weeks of full-time employment
•5.1% or $271,000 over budget
•Completed 5 months behind schedule
•Over 19 weeks of commercial operation:
–752 MWh of electricity sold to BC Hydro
–$88,610 in revenue; estimated break even $216,000/year
–$12,940 in operational expenses; compared to $61,800/year estimated
•500+ people toured facility
•150+ media articles and blogs
•1,800+ unique views of project video
•8,500+ unique visitors to sunmine.ca
•Mayor McCormick was a feature presenter on SunMine at the 2015 CivX Lower Mainland Local Government Conference
–Clean Energy BC, 2015 Community of the Year Award
–Union of BC Municipalities , Community Excellence Award
–Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, Sustainability Award (EcoSmart)
On September 24 the City of Kimberley was presented a Community Excellence Award by the Union of BC Municipalities for Leadership and Innovation in Green Initiatives for SunMine, BC's first grid-connected solar facility and the largest use of solar trackers in Canada.
SunMine means bright future for sunny resort city Kimberley, BC
(KIMBERLEY, BC) The City of Kimberley is pleased to announce that SunMine is commercially operational. The 1.05 MW (megawatt) solar project is B.C.’s first grid-connected solar facility, as well as being Canada’s largest project to use solar trackers.
Production data since June 22nd confirms that the energy being generated by the SunMine is exceeding the modeled design potential.
According to Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick, “SunMine is a great example of the resiliency of our community. We are thriving and pursuing new and innovative directions. Although SunMine is the largest solar facility in BC, it is relatively small. As the SunMine proves its potential, the City of Kimberley is looking to expand it and have already had several inquiries from prospective partners.” SunMine is supplying enough electricity to the BC Hydro grid to power approximately 200 homes.
“SunMine is a symbol of Kimberley’s commitment to the environment. When Kimberley’s mineral resources were depleted, we took advantage of our solar potential and developed a new resource which is renewable,” said Scott Sommerville, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Kimberley. Kimberley receives the most sunshine in B.C. (over 300 days per year), and the community-owned SunMine is well suited to capitalize on these clear and sunny conditions.
“Innovative, private clean energy projects have helped power B.C. since the 1980s and are a cornerstone of B.C.’s energy policy,” said Minister Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines. “The Sun Mine project has the potential to spur interest in development of other solar projects, bringing more jobs and economic benefits to communities across B.C.”
Teck provided use of the land and site infrastructure as well as a $2 million contribution towards the project. SunMine is located on Teck’s former Sullivan Mine site, which has been fully reclaimed.
“Participating in SunMine reflects both Teck’s commitment to supporting local communities, even after mining has ceased, and our focus on expanding the use of alternative energy,” said Don Lindsay, President and CEO of Teck. “We’re proud to be contributing to the long-term prosperity of Kimberley and commend the City for their entrepreneurial spirit.”
The City of Kimberley gratefully acknowledges the support of Columbia Basin Trust and the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust and the Province’s $1 million contribution through the Innovative Clean Energy Fund.
The SunMine project was conceived and supported by the Vancouver-based EcoSmart Foundation. “I’m extremely pleased that SunMine’s initial operation confirms the expected performance benefits of the project’s innovative design,” said EcoSmart CEO Michel de Spot. “Solar energy is one of the fastest growing industries in North America and its potential in BC is exceptional. EcoSmart is proud to have collaborated with Teck and Kimberley on this innovative project.”
Free public tours of SunMine are being offered several times per day from July 31st to August 5th. To sign up for tours, visit www.sunmine.ca or call the Kimberley Visitor Centre at 778-481-1891.
Following the successful installation of the power distribution transformer and the electrical interconnection protections equipment in early June, electrons have been flowing into Teck’s Stiles Substation daily for several weeks.
As part of BC Hydro’s multi-stage verification process, SunMine recently underwent a 5-day, 120 hour test of energy production.
Planning is now underway for an grand opening on July 27th and public tours in the days that follow. Check back here that day for the details and a project video, as SunMine nears commercial operation.
Construction of SunMine is nearly complete, with only the transformer and interconnection with the BC Hydro electricity grid remaining (see photos below). Public access to SunMine is prohibited, however the City will be arranging for tours this Summer. In the meantime, SunMine can be viewed from the following locations:
Construction continues on SunMine, western Canada’s largest solar project.
Last week the Prime Contractor Conergy Canada and construction manager SkyFire Energy completed the installation of all 4,032 photovoltaic modules.
Modules are now arranged in ninety six 38 foot X 20 foot tables and have been mounted on masts topped with a specialized tracking system that will rotate to track the sun. There are 42 photovoltaic modules per table top. Once the installation and commissioning is complete the table tops in the picture will tilt at similar angles to maximize solar exposure and energy generation.
The trackers are considered a “best in class” system whose unique light sensing technology measures conditions and calculates the optimal angle of tilt in two dimensions. Check out this video from the German product designer and manufacturer Deger.
Trackers provide approximately 30% more energy than fixed panels. The trackers' sensors also feature load sensing capabilities and will increase the tilt angle to dump snow as needed and adjust the tilt angle to reduce windload. Performance will be digitally monitored by a data acquisition and monitoring system.
Construction continues on pace for operation in early 2015. In parallel to the tracker installation, trenching and installation of cabling is complete and electricians have begun wiring the trackers and connecting the string inverters that convert the suns energy into electricity that is suitable for delivery via a powerline to the BC Hydro system. String inverters allow for segmented power production in the solar array, providing more power production than centralized inverters which have been historically more popular.
Upcoming activities include installation of the powerline connecting SunMine to the Teck Kimberley substation and BC Hydro, and modifications to the substation itself.
Public access to SunMine is prohibited.
If you’re hoping to get a look at the SunMine site check out the following viewpoints:
· Magic Line, look East from the picnic table atop the second climb (Cardiac hill)
· Sunshine Corner in the Nordic Centre Trails, look East
· The trail from Duck Pond to Apache Trail in Forest Crowne, look East
· Driving North on Jim Ogilvie Way, North of Transfer Station, look Northeast
Find advice and maps on how to get there at the Visitor Info Centre in downtown Kimberley.