Solargise Canada is negotiating a land purchase in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of Montreal, for the first phase of a C$2.3-billion project to build a new generation of plastic-free solar collectors.
The subsidiary of UK-based Solargise Ltd. chose the site for its Sand to Power project based on its close proximity to a rail line, a utility substation, and the Port of Valleyfield.
“The first phase will involve capacity for the production of polysilicon ingots, silicon semiconductor wafers, PV cells, and plastic-free solar glass modules. The establishment of an 11N purity solar-grade polysilicon plant and metallurgical grade silicon (MgSi) facilities will follow in the second phase,” Renewables Now reports. “Solargise said it is also negotiating a deal with a private landowner for the second phase, also in Quebec.”
In late July, when the company was still considering production sites in Montreal and Gatineau, a Solargise consultant said his client would be producing a different kind of PV module. “Your regular solar panel, which is made of plastic, has a very high level of degradation,” explained Pierre Langlois, director of National Public Affairs Montreal. “The panel made by Solargise, which is completely made of glass, doesn’t have that degrading component, so they have a way longer life expectancy.”
He added that the eventual production site would require 80 hectares (200 acres) of land and 550 megawatts of power supply, “so when you put that in your site selection criteria—land, hydro power, proximity to the railroad and to the port—that narrows the type of land you can develop.” Langlois also pointed to Quebec’s low industrial electricity rates as a factor in Solargise’s planning.
Renewables Now says Solargise turned to Salaberry-de-Valleyfield “after failing to reach an agreement with a certain landowner and facing technical hurdles” around a proposed location in Montreal. In the late July news report, municipal opposition leader Lionel Perez questioned city council’s previous approval of an expanded nature preserve in the east end borough of Anjou, where the company was also considering a land purchase.
Perez said the nature preserve “could cause the city to miss a once-in-a-lifetime shot at sustainable energy,” CTV reported at the time, and accused the administration of Mayor Valérie Plante of withholding information that Anjou was one of three sites Solargise was considering for its manufacturing facility.
“At no point did the administration share the knowledge that there were discussions with such a project,” Perez said. “There was no opportunity to have a debate.”
The opposition politician contended that the project “would provide roughly 1,000 jobs and a boost to Montreal’s tech sector,” CTV stated. “He added that fans of the nature park extension would also be pleased, as 30% of the site would still be devoted to public park space.”
“You have a model in terms of sustainable development, in terms of economic development, in terms of high tech, in terms of being able to use our pool of university students,” Perez said