A shovel in the ground Thursday officially launched a massive local green-energy project but rays from the sun will power it.
Dignitaries gathered for a sod-turning on almost 400 acres at Windsor Airport where Samsung will build a solar farm with 193,000 solar panels that can power the equivalent of 8,500 homes.
“It’s great news,” said Mayor Drew Dilkens, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony. “We’re supporting green energy but we’re also getting a revenue stream from this project that will be reinvested back into the community.”
Dilkens said the second-largest solar project in the province should bring in about $20 million over 20 years for the city, though the exact amount will be based on the success of the facility.
“It’s a big project,” Dilkens said. “It has been years in the making. Certainly, it’s a project that needed multiple levels of approval from almost every department provincially and federally.”
Given that the Windsor Solar project sits on airport property, extensive glare testing was required to ensure reflecting light would not affect pilots landing or taking off.
The 50 megawatt project is a partnership between Samsung Renewable Energy and Connor, Clark & Lunn Infrastructure and will use Ontario-made panels and inverters to generate clean, renewable energy.
Dilkens said the project will create about 225 jobs during construction, which should last till late 2016 or early 2017, and will produce five full-time jobs at the facility when operational.
Though construction actually started about a month ago, Thursday’s sod-turning for solar power — ironically, on an unseasonably cold day — marked the official launch of the long-awaited project.
“Samsung is thankful to become part of this supportive community in Windsor and is proud to start construction on our third Ontario solar energy project,” said Steve Cho, vice-president of Samsung C&T. “The Windsor solar project will create hundreds of high-skilled jobs that will benefit real people in this community.”
According to a company news release, compared to coal-fired generation, the project will offset approximately 81,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, the equivalent of taking nearly 15,000 cars off the roads.
“It’s a very exciting day,” Samsung spokesperson Carol Mitchell said. “There are real jobs available. Everybody benefits: the community and the environment.”