A B.A.A.-trained engineer and a business student were working on a project for a solar energy company when they got the call from a local investor.
“I looked at him like, ‘Wow, this guy is crazy.
This guy is nuts’,” said Dave Brouwer, a co-founder of SolarPower BC, who was in his mid-20s when the call came.
“So I said, ‘Well, you know, we should just get started.'”
A local company called SolarPower was developing a solar thermal plant.
SolarPower had raised $1 million in a $2-billion seed round led by Suncor Energy Corp. and the B.M.S. Fund.
In the deal, SolarPower also had secured a 25-year lease on the site.
The company had already built two of the plants, and Brouwers team had built a third.
It had completed two of three phases: solar thermal and an underground hydropower plant, which was being built to produce hydroelectric power.
SolarThermal was slated to start generating electricity in 2021.
At the time, the company said it had secured enough financing to finance construction.
But when the project came online in 2018, SolarTherm’s first project was in trouble.
The plant was in danger of shutting down and leaving the company behind.
Brouewers team needed to save the company from bankruptcy.
The first step was to buy a piece of the company.
In January, Solartherm announced it would sell its land in Victoria for $300 million.
The new owners bought a 4,500-hectare plot in Victoria’s west and a portion of the plant in Surrey.
The deal also included a 20 per cent stake in SolarPower.
Burchwal said the deal was a win-win for the two companies.
“It was a very exciting moment for us because it was really, really easy to buy the land in Surrey and build a thermal plant,” he said.
“And I think that’s when we realized that we had the ability to get a piece, but we had to get it together to make it work.”
The land was already leased, and a solar farm was planned in the area.
In early 2018, the two parties had a final meeting and Burchwers family came to see him to sign a memorandum of understanding.
SolarPOWER was born The two companies now own the land, a project that has been running for the last five years.
“We’re very excited about this,” Burchwall said.
In May, SolarPowers board of directors voted to make SolarPower B.S., to help make it easier for other companies to build projects on the same site.
“When we got the board approval, we thought it was going to be pretty straightforward,” he added.
The board approved the deal in February and Bregwers says the two businesses have had “the most incredible partnership.”
“It’s just really cool to see that, even when you’re not the one who’s going to build it, you can still see the impact it’s going do for the community,” he explained.
“You can see the money that’s going into the community, the jobs that are going to come from it, the people that are coming in.
It’s amazing to see it happen.”
The company is now running a pilot project with another project in Surrey that is also being built.
The SolarTherms site is part of a large solar farm, which will have a combined capacity of 1.8 million kilowatts of solar thermal power.
Bregwall said SolarPower is working on an expansion to the farm that could potentially increase the solar thermal capacity to more than 10 million kilonewatts.
“At that scale, it’s really a huge deal,” he noted.
“That’s the kind of scale that can support a solar-powered power plant in a very significant way.
That’s the sort of scale where, even with the wind out, we could build a power plant like that.”
SolarThermidons future In 2019, Burchs family started working with a group of local First Nations, who wanted to expand the area’s solar farms and build more solar thermal facilities.
The community is interested in solar thermal because it can generate electricity in areas with intermittent power.
“A lot of communities are very interested in renewable energy,” said Suncor’s Sunny Fazle, a community member in the Burchwaters’ group.
“In our community, there’s not a lot of solar power.
We’re kind of the only community in B.K. that has a large amount of solar energy.”
Suncor says its project will generate about $100 million in revenue for the local community each year.
Suncor has a solar project in northern Victoria and is building a large thermal plant in southern Victoria.
The project will