Trackers allow PV to work well on difficult terrain

Very high solar yields despite difficult conditions (Photo: Deger)
Very high solar yields despite difficult conditions (Photo: Deger)

The SunMine project in the Canadian city of Kimberley recently went into operation. The 1.05-MW solar project is British Columbia’s first grid-connected solar facility, as well as being Canada’s largest project to use solar trackers. Production data since 22 June confirms that the energy being generated by the SunMine is exceeding the modelled design potential.

The project is special for a number of reasons: The solar park was built over a former mine, which makes the terrain difficult, and the ground might also settle further during the coming years. In addition, the terrain is sloped. Because of these conditions, Kimberley opted for a Tracker solution by the German manufacturer Deger.

Deger installed ninety-six D100 trackers above the mine in Kimberley. The trackers are each equipped with 42 solar modules, have a total capacity of 1 MW and produce solar power for approximately 500 households. For Deger, the solar park in the Canadian town in British Columbia is proof that its patented tracking systems are the optimum solution for difficult conditions like these: The terrain at the site is sloped, interspersed with rocks and still settling in some places, and the system is particularly well-suited for this. The trackers automatically align their modules to collect as much energy as possible, even if the inclination of the ground changes later.

Planning for the SunMine project took almost one year. Deger helped the Canadian project team to calculate the optimal layout as well as anchor the trackers in the difficult ground. The yield calculations were also carried out jointly.

According to Deger, the SunMine project is just the beginning when it comes to mines: Solar tracking systems are an excellent value-creating alternative for operators of mines that are either decommissioned or still in use around the world: The land above the mine, which would otherwise remain unused, can put to good use for generating solar power.

In any case, Kimberley's Mayor Don McCormick is enthusiastic: “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 has already had several inquiries from prospective partners.”

For Scott Sommerville, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Kimberley, 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 that is renewable.” Kimberley receives the most sunshine in B.C. (over 300 days per year), and the community-owned SunMine is well suited to capitalise on these clear and sunny conditions.

Bodo Höche / Deger

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