New Brunswick’s only solar farm is now online near Sussex. With 400 panels – on 25 poles that carry 16 panels on each – it is the first of its kind in the province.
“I wish a lot more farmers and rural residents could do something like I did and substitute their income a little bit and do something for the environment,” explains Frank Jopp, the farmer who decided to hop on board with renewable energy.
Jopp has spent the last 35-years tending to his dairy herd, his workload remained mostly unchanged for more than three decades as milk prices continued to decline by at least 10 per cent over the last five years. Because of the declining income, he decided he needed to do something to keep the family farm afloat, so he started to farm and harvest sunlight.
“We’re going to generate enough power for eight homes – average homes in New Brunswick – and we’re going to produce more power than we’re using on the farm.”
The project has been spear-headed by The Smart Energy Company, a renewable energy developer in the province. President Mark McAloon says this project could easily be expanded.
“It is kind of small in comparison to other ones around the world, but it is a big step forward for solar in New Brunswick,” said McAloon.
New Brunswick receives about five per cent more sunlight than Nova Scotia, and stakeholders would like to see New Brunswick develop more aggressive policies around renewable energy.
“Connecting to the grid on … a scale [of] 100-kw to 3 megawatts would put us on the distribution system, and I believe that if we had that kind of policy and that kind of support [from] our government then we’d see a lot more projects like this,” explains McAloon.
Much like farming, Jopp will have to wait to see if his investment pays off. All of the power he generates is sold to NB Power, and it could take up to 14-years before he sees any significant return.