The largest solar farms in the Americas and in the world are both under construction, driven by governmental renewable goals.
In March, Enel Green Power Mexico started construction on the 754 MW Villaneuva solar photovoltaic plant in Viesca, Coahulia State in Mexico. Under a power purchase agreement won in a 2016 government auction for clean power, Enel is building two separate sections of the solar farm: one 427 MW and the other 327 MW. Under the contract with the Comisión Federal de Electricidad, Enel will operate the $650 million plant when it is completed.
The 2016 auction, held under Mexico’s 2013 energy reforms calling for 50 % of the country’s energy to be clean by 2050, tapped 19 companies including Acciona, Cubico Sustainable Investments, Grupo EDF Energies Nouvelles, Engie, Sempra Energy and Zuma Energía to build 36 power plants – 14 of them solar. Enel is also building another 200 MW solar farm in Cohauila under the auction.
Preliminary engineering for the site was performed by Enel and will be completed by the onsite contractors, which Enel declined to disclose.
Enel is working to build a sustainable site, says Paolo Romanacci, Enel’s Head of Renewable Energies for Central America. The site is being constructed in desert-like conditions.
“We will pay special attention to create shared value for the communities near the site,” he says. Through constant dialogue with them and local authorities, we will carry out a series of initiatives to boost the education and economic development of the areas nearby the plant.” One initiative includes a project that will generate potable water for the community and be used to clean the solar panels.
Romanacci says the logistics of the site, five times the size of Central Park, are also challenging.
“All the logistics aspects of construction operations have to be accurately planned to ensure that the entire process is realized in line with schedule,” he says. The two sites will have 2.3 million PV modules.
The sandy site is also challenging because of the dust and the compaction that can occur.
The power plant will be connected to the grid with a 3-mile, 400 kW transmission line that Enel is building.
In another desert, half a world away, construction is set to begin on a 1,177 MW PV facility in the United Arab Emirates.
On May 24, Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority and Sweihan Solar Holding Company signed a financing package for the plant to be built about 75 miles east of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.
Construction on the photovoltaic plant is scheduled to begin immediately and will be completed in the second quarter of 2019, according to JinkoSolar, which along with Marubeni Corp. is developing the solar plant.
The solar plant was developed in response to the UAE’s Energy Plan 2050, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50 by 2050 by, among other things, making the oil rich country’s energy supply 44% renewable.
The authority could not be reached for information who is constructing the $872 million solar park.
The project will dwarf the next largest PV plant in the world, the 850 MW Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China.