Photograph showcasing GOLDBECK SOLAR's PHLEGON Fixed-Tilt Racking Solutions

AREA to build 9MW of community solar gardens in Berwick, Antigonish, and Mahone Bay

August 31st, 2022, Alternative Resource Energy Authority joined forces with GP JOULE North America EPC Division to announce that they have broken ground on three Community Solar gardens in the Atlantic Province of Nova Scotia, Canada. AREA is a 100% municipally owned organization and has developed, and operates the Ellershouse Wind Farm in West Hants, Nova Scotia consisting of 10 wind turbines and 23.5MW, along with a pipeline of 9MW of solar projects. Although already saving 192,335 tCO2eq, AREA and the Towns continue to reduce emissions and create an even larger environmental impact. GP JOULE, a subsidiary of German-based GOLDBECK SOLAR, a global renewable energy solutions provider, has been established in 2011 and has since grown to become a leading Solar EPC Solutions provider across Canada, expanding in the Northern US states. Since 2014, the Company has built over 200MW of solar farms in Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Minnesota, and New York and has a pipeline of over 500 MW.

Largest community solar initiative

AREA is developing a total of 9MW of solar gardens throughout three Nova Scotia locations. This is the largest community solar initiative in the country where ratepayers can participate in the many benefits of solar in their Town. These projects will increase total installed solar capacity by over 30%, along with the ability to produce enough clean energy to power 1000 homes. The biggest emitters of GHG in Canada come from the combustion of fossil fuels to make energy. With the Ellershouse and new Solar Gardens combined, AREA will be able to clean up their supply, while utilizing their HOME program to help address cleaner heat sources. The towns aim to be the very first net-zero emissions communities in Canada by 2050 with the province’s goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 53% by 2030.

Contributing to the town´s electricity needs

Since establishing in 2014, AREA has provided over $23M in benefits to its owner towns and their Municipal Electric Utilities. By currently working with the federal government and corresponding municipalities, these Community Solar Gardens will also benefit utility customers who may not be capable or have the means to install solar panels on personal property. Antigonish’s solar garden alone will be capable of producing energy for 3% of the electricity needs for the town.

The new solar gardens will include:

  • 2.1 megawatt solar garden in Antigonish that will provide three per cent of the town’s electricity us
  • 1.9 megawatt facility in Mahone Bay that will account for about 16 per cent of the town’s electricity use
  • 4.8 megawatt facility in Berwick that will account for about 15 per cent of the town’s electricity use

Acting today to preserve tomorrow

Aaron Long, General Manager of AREA states “AREA is committed to making energy supply decisions that best position our municipalities for the future, and thereby deliver long-term customer, community, and environmental benefits. Solar is an excellent complement to our Ellershouse wind, and we needed a committed, capable solar installation firm to help us achieve our vision of a diverse supply portfolio. Our collaboration with GP Joule is necessary on these key solar projects in our communities to not only achieve commercial operations but to develop local labor resources critical to Nova Scotia’s decarbonization plans.”

Lenta Wright, Project Development and Operations Manager of AREA states “Community solar will change the application of solar in Nova Scotia and finally make it accessible for everyone who wishes to participate. This tool will enable families and businesses in Nova Scotia to use Nova Scotia-generated, clean power at an affordable and scalable price.”

“We have entered the Nova Scotia market in 2020 and worked very collaboratively with AREA since being awarded the contracts, to help these projects become a reality” states David Pichard, CEO of GP JOULE. “These are community-based projects in the true sense and a blueprint for other municipalities. We are committed to local economic development in Nova Scotia and more broadly the Maritimes as the renewables industry starts to scale in the region; we have established a satellite office in Halifax in the summer of 2022 and have been hiring local talent and training students through the Nova Scotia Community College network to help support the growth of commercial and utility solar and storage projects in the Province, which is a big part of our commitment and vision”.

Antigonish, Berwick, Mahone Bay, and Riverport’s municipal electric utilities saw an opportunity in the early 2000s to chart a new course for their energy futures. The group took a significant step forward in 2013 and, with substantial help from Minas Energy, formed the Alternative Resource Energy Authority (AREA). Over the course of 2014 and through 2017, these municipalities invested significantly to develop and operate the Ellershouse Wind Farm. Today, the Ellershouse Wind Farm provides over 40% renewable energy to AREA’s owner-towns and the Riverport Electric Light Commission, making them the only Utilities to meet the original design of Nova Scotia’s 40% Renewable Electricity Standard in 2020. AREA has been developing solar photovoltaic projects in Nova Scotia since 2017, starting with 1.5 MW of commercial solar for 20 municipalities across the province through the Solar for Community Buildings Program. In 2020 AREA leveraged its commercial solar experience to develop the most significant community solar project in Canada. Across their three partner towns, they are building 9 MW of community solar gardens. These projects will unlock new and more equitable opportunities for residents and businesses to participate in solar energy regardless of income, renting, or owning their homes.

About GOLDBECK SOLAR (GP Joule North America)

GOLDBECK SOLAR is an international company specializing in the turnkey construction of commercial rooftops and ground-mounted photovoltaic systems. The range of services covers the entire value chain, from project development and targeted project financing to the construction and integration of storage technologies, technical operation, and asset management of the plants, as well as the direct sale of clean energy. Since 2001, GOLDBECK SOLAR has developed and implemented more than 2.5 GW of solar plants in 20 countries around the globe. The EPC company also owns more than 500 MWp of assets in operation and under construction and has built up a development pipeline of more than 1.5 GW in the last 5 years.

September 9th, 2022, GOLDBECK SOLAR acquired the North American PV-EPC business unit of GP JOULE. The vertically integrated EPC company supplies turnkey PV and energy storage power plants with proprietary single axis tracking and fixed tilt racking systems. With more than 200 MWp of projects built in Canada and the northern US states over the past 11 years, and currently 200MWp in contracts, GP JOULE EPC NA specializes in servicing utilities and C&I clients. Founded in 2011, the company is headquartered in Toronto, ON, has had a presence in Calgary, AB since 2016, and most recently established a location in Halifax, NS in 2022. Its US satellite office is in Los Gatos, CA.

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