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Marten Falls piloting solar project

Ring of Fire-area First Nation community studying green power
Aecon solar project
(Aecon Group photo)

A First Nation community near the Ring of Fire is looking at solar energy to reduce its dependence on diesel fuel for power generation.

Marten Falls First Nation and Aecon Group have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a solar power pilot project.

"For Marten Falls, this is a positive development that will help reduce dependence on expensive, non-renewable energy and provide economic benefits to the community in a sustainable fashion," said Chief Bruce Achneepineskum in a March 14 Aecon news release.

"The community currently relies on diesel and other supplies that are flown in at great expense. We need innovative solutions like this for socio-economic development."

Marten Falls is a community with a registered population of 720, located on the Albany River, about 300 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay and about 100 kilometres southeast of the Ring of Fire.

The Toronto and Calgary-headquartered construction company bills itself as a leader in the solar installation industry, having completed rooftop projects for IKEA, Home Depot, Canadian Tire and Guelph Hydro, and solar parks, such as the 10-megawatt Lily Lake Solar Park for Peterborough Utilities.

They are not to be confused with AECOM, which partnered with Marten Falls, to conduct the road study and environmental assessment for the first leg of a shared community and industrial transportation corridor to the Ring of Fire. 

The news release said the surface-mounted, self-supporting solar and battery system will tie into the community's substation.

The design is considered durable enough to withstand extreme northern climates and can produce more energy than standard solar panels.

"Aecon is pleased to partner with Marten Falls First Nation to explore this innovative renewable energy solution which supports Canada's carbon reduction strategy through diesel abatement," said president-CEO Jean Louis Servranckx in a statement.

There's also a community training component involving heavy equipment and machinery if a decision is made to build the solar project.