Clean energy to create clean water: the E.L. Smith Solar Farm
The E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant (WTP) is essential to life in Edmonton and its metro region. Constructed more than 40 years ago, today it supplies more than 65% of all the water consumed in Edmonton and our surrounding communities.
Edmonton's City Plan envisions the region growing to 2 million people and beyond over the coming decade. Most of the water needed to serve that population will come from the E.L. Smith WTP. The facility is already EPCOR's second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions as a result of electrical energy used to pump water. As water demand and treatment volumes grow, reducing emissions from electricity consumption at the water treatment plant is essential for us to meet our emission reduction targets.
E. L. Smith Solar Farm tackles this challenge directly. Once constructed, it will give the water treatment plant access to three sources of electricity:
Real-time solar power from approximately 31,000 panels that will make more than 20,000 megawatt hours of clean energy each year
Battery power as the on-site battery storage device is charged during the day, then used when it is needed most
Grid connection, which becomes a two-way resource through which we can indirectly share extra renewable power production with other EPCOR facilities
The project is designed as a behind-the-meter smart grid. This means that the renewable power source is located next to the water plant, not on the grid. This enables the plant to directly access green power for its own needs and reduce its grid power consumption. It is a “smart grid" because the water plant, solar panels, and battery work together as a system. They're united by intelligent controls that optimize when the energy is stored and how it is used.
Project partners include Natural Resources Canada, which is providing funding for the battery and smart grid system. Additional partnerships with post-secondary institutions will promote knowledge sharing and training on smart grid installations.