Frequently Asked Questions About The Scotford Solar Project
Over 3,660 homes per year
16 to 17 months, depending on weather
General Project Questions
Shell has an overall plan to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society. To contribute to the execution of this plan, Shell is transforming its Energy and Chemicals Park Scotford into one of five energy and chemical parks, providing customers with lower carbon fuels and products. As part of this transformation the company has contracted with Silicon Ranch to build, own, and operate this 58-megawatt solar farm to power its Scotford operations with clean, reliable, cost-effective renewable energy for the next 25 years.
Silicon Ranch chose the site because it offers a variety of favorable characteristics, including but not limited to (1) interconnection characteristics (including proximity to Point of Interconnection and transmission availability), (2) property size, and (3) physical criteria (including topography, wetlands, and floodplains).
In short, the site is a great location, being directly adjacent to the Energy and Chemicals Park Scotford and the necessary infrastructure needed to support the project.
Silicon Ranch expects to invest more than $125 million to construct the facility and to hire about 150 workers for the project’s construction, with a focus on hiring locally. The project requires no capital investment from the community, Shell Refinery, the local utility, or Strathcona County.
Strathcona County residents, government, and school systems will benefit from the project through the expected injection of millions of dollars in tax revenues over the life of the project, Silicon Ranch’s investment in the region of over $125 million, and the creation of new construction jobs. Once operational, the project is expected to contribute approximately $200,000 a year on a levelized basis to the Strathcona County local government and school system, while requiring little to no county services in return. In other words, the taxes generated from the project are accretive to the tax base. Additionally, Silicon Ranch is committed to emphasizing local hiring to fill the ~150 temporary jobs required to construct this project.
Shell will benefit from this project by receiving clean, reliable, cost-effective renewable energy to help power the operations of its Energy and Chemicals Park in Scotford. By doing so, the facility will help support Shell with its plans to become a net-zero emissions energy business.
Shell’s customers will benefit from the project by having access to lower-carbon intensive fuels and chemicals.
Silicon Ranch will own the project. This company is committed to owning and operating every project in its portfolio for the long term. In the eleven-year history of the company, Silicon Ranch has never sold a project, which means Strathcona County can be confident that Silicon Ranch will stand behind the performance of the project day in and day out.
It is a common misconception that ground-mounted solar farms decrease nearby property values.
- Examining property value in states across the U.S., for example, demonstrates that large-scale solar arrays have no measurable impact on the value of adjacent properties, and in some cases may even have positive effects.
- Proximity to solar farms does not adversely impact sales of agricultural or residential land.
- Large solar projects have similar characteristics to a greenhouse or single-story residence. Usually no more than 10 feet high, solar farms are often enclosed by fencing and/or landscaping to minimize visual impacts.
Solar PV panels are made of tempered glass and pass rigorous hail and other weather testing. The two most common types of solar panels—silicon-based and thin film—are both required to pass the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Leaching Characteristic Procedure (TCLP) test, meaning that these panels are nonhazardous.
 Southern Environmental Law Center (PDF)
Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) is a part of normal life, from the appliances used in our homes to the cell phones we use and the electrical lines in our neighborhoods. At the perimeter fencing of a solar project, the EMF exposure is far lower than that found inside a typical home.
As a safety feature, a 6’ tall chain link fence with barbed wire will surround the solar facility.
This will depend on the time of day, but generally, no more than 10’ high. The panels will rotate to follow the sun throughout the day. At the beginning and end of the day, the solar panels will be at their highest as they will be angled 60 degrees. Around lunchtime, the panels will be at their lowest.
The project will interconnect to Shell’s Energy and Chemicals Park Scotford through FortisAlberta Inc. distribution network.
It is anticipated that the project will create about 150 construction jobs, and Silicon Ranch has a strong preference for hiring locally.
We always prefer to hire qualified, local firms when possible and have a strong track record of hiring locally.
Please go to the Contact page and fill out the Contact form, and a project representative will reach out with more details on available work and the timing of proposals.
There will be temporary construction traffic, including 18-wheelers delivering supplies during the installation. Silicon Ranch will implement a traffic management plan. Access to the site will be from Range Road 215 and Township Road 561. Once operational, however, the project will create little traffic.
There is noise during the temporary construction period—notably from two sources: construction traffic and pile driving. Silicon Ranch seeks to minimize any disruption by performing work during normal business hours. Once operational, the project will not generate any noise.
The project will utilize polysilicon or thin film Photovoltaic (PV) modules on a fixed-tilt system. With a fixed tilt system, the rows of solar modules are arranged east-west, tilted to the south at twenty-five degrees, keeping the solar panels facing the sun to maximize energy production.
The PV modules produce direct current (DC) power that flows to inverters, where the power is converted to alternating current (AC) before passing through a transformer and being delivered to the Scotford Refinery through the FortisAlberta distribution network.
Once operational, the project will be remotely monitored and rarely visited except for periodic and routine maintenance. This is usually accomplished with 1-2 pick-up trucks or vans, depending on the crew.
Yes, the project will follow and adhere to all local and provincial regulations including fencing, electric codes, and signage. Additionally, the project will be monitored 24/7 so that any disturbance to the system can be quickly and safely acted upon.
Once operational, the project will not generate any noticeable noise. The inverters have a quiet hum, not unlike that heard from a residential transformer. Given the project size and location of the inverters within the fenced array, this will be virtually imperceptible.
While most of the jobs the project creates will be related to the construction of the facility, it is anticipated that the project will create additional jobs for ongoing maintenance once operational.
Solar modules are designed to absorb (rather than reflect) as much light as possible and are covered with a protective layer of anti-reflective matte glass.
Rather than viewing the land housing our solar power plants as an operations cost center—a liability—we recognize that land and vegetation are valuable natural resources and biological assets. When land and vegetation are managed properly, and in alignment with natural systems, we can revitalize soils, restore grassland ecosystems, increase biodiversity, sequester carbon, and improve water quality.
Through this holistic approach, we demonstrate that it is fully possible to potentially keep lands in agricultural production and produce clean, renewable energy. We recognize Alberta’s strong agricultural heritage, and we are committed to designing, building, and operating our solar power plant in a way that continues that legacy, in partnership with the ag community in Strathcona County and throughout the province.
At the end of the solar project’s useful life (anticipated to be 40 years), it will either be repowered with newer solar technology or will be decommissioned, and all components removed and the ground stabilized. Silicon Ranch will ensure that decommissioning occurs safely and responsibly, and that the site remains in excellent condition.