Enel building Colombia’s largest solar project, completes 238MW Mexican plant

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The plants are located in the Cesar department in the north of Colombia and in  San Luis de la Paz, in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. Credit: Enel Green Power

Subsidiaries of Italian power giant Enel have started building Colombia’s largest solar project and completed a 238MW plant in Mexico.

Enel Green Power Colombia (EGPC) is building the 86.2MW El Paso solar power plant, located in the Cesar department in the north of Colombia, the largest project under construction in the country.

Antonio Cammisecra, Enel’s head of Global Renewable Energies division Enel Green Power, said: “The construction of El Paso is a key milestone in the development of the Enel Group’s renewable footprint in Colombia and it also marks an important step towards the diversification of the country’s generation mix, showcasing what renewables are capable of. We are leveraging on our expertise to build Colombia’s first large-scale solar power plant to have a centralised energy dispatch, which means having a daily commitment to deliver power to the grid, like any other large-scale conventional power plant.”

Enel will be investing approximately US$70 million in the construction, which is expected to start operation in the second half of 2018. The solar facility will be composed of around 250,000 solar panels and once fully operational will be able to produce 176GWh per year. The plant will be connected to the National Power Transmission System through the El Paso Substation.

EGPC claims it is carrying out several initiatives to support local businesses and communities, which include entrepreneurship training courses, energy efficiency and rural electrification projects targeting some schools in the area as well as environmental projects to conserve local ecosystems. EGPC is also designing an environmental corridor that will allow wildlife to pass through the project site.

Mexico project

Meanwhile, Enel Green Power Mexico (EGPM) has inaugurated the 238MW Don José project located in San Luis de la Paz, in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.

“Don José is one of Enel Green Power’s most important projects in Mexico as it is the second plant to start operations after the country’s energy reform, just behind Villanueva, the Group’s largest photovoltaic plant worldwide,” said Cammisecra. “With the inauguration of Don José, Enel is strengthening its presence in Mexico and its commitment to boost the development of the country’s renewable energy sector. We are the first and only company to start operation at the projects linked to the contracts awarded in the first auction ahead of the established schedule. As further testament to our commitment, EGPM is also the only company that signed agreements for the 10% extension of three of its projects, including Don José, as foreseen in the awarded contracts.”

The investment for the construction of Don José, which achieved full production over five months ahead of schedule, amounted to approximately US$220 million. The plant is supported by a contract for the sale of specific volumes of energy for 15 years and Clean Energy Certificates for 20 years with Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). EGPM has also recently signed an agreement with CFE to expand the plant’s capacity by 10%. The expansion, which will add 22MW to Don José, will be completed in the second half of 2018 and will involve an investment of around US$21 million.

The Don José plant, including its expansion, will consist of more than 1,300 hectares of land, where more than 850,000 solar panels will be installed, capable of producing more than 625GWh.

EGPM claims to have carried out initiatives in the surrounding areas of the plant to protect the local flora, with the relocation of more than 1,000 specimens of vegetation, including cacti and palm trees, and to support local communities, with engagement activities, support during rainy seasons and direct involvement in social and cultural festivities.

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