For a century, the Sullivan mine was the largest lead mine in Canada and the main economic engine for Kimberley, BC. It ceased operation in 2001, leaving behind a huge industrial brownfield site and an industrial town with a need to reinvent itself.
Fortunately, Kimberley has another underdeveloped resource: one of the highest solar energy intensities in Canada. The “SunMine ™” – or “Mining the Sun ™” project was born out of the realization that the Sullivan brownfield with its heritage infrastructure, including roads, high-voltage transmission lines and sub-stations, could be used to take advantage of Kimberley’s solar energy potential. The sheer size of the land available (3,000 Ha) coupled with exceptional solar conditions (2,200 hrs per year) could make “SunMine” the largest solar farm in Canada.
SunMine’s short-term objective is to develop a two (2) MW pilot photovoltaic (PV) plant on the brownfield site of the former Sullivan industrial compound in Kimberley, BC.
The feasibility of the project is based on a location that has exceptionally good conditions:
- one of the highest solar irradiation levels in Canada;
- A very large brownfield, owned by Teck, the former mining operator, that can be re-developed from a liability into an asset;
- Existing sub-stations connected to high capacity and under-utilized high voltage transmission lines
The goal is to achieve the lowest cost per Megawatt-hour, paving the way to grid parity and the development of an extensive high-performance solar farm.