Order Focus: Yingli Green supplies panels to Bolivian hybrid PV plant

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Bolivia’s first megawatt-scale PV plant has been supplied with Yingli Green solar panels, the Chinese manufacturer has announced.

The module manufacturer’s subsidiary, Yingli Green Energy Spain, supplied more than 17,000 panels to the 5MW project, which is expected to supply electricity to around 49,000 people in the region. Located near the remote Pando city of Cobija, panels at the 15 hectare project were installed by engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm Isotron.

Plans to build the facility were announced by the Bolivian government in January. The government said at the time that it would invest US$11 million in the project, in the Department of Pando on the border with Brazil. The area is not connected to the grid and is heavily dependent on diesel generators at present, with the new power plant project aiming to lower that dependency.

The plant will be a hybrid system combining diesel generation with battery-based energy storage. In August it was also announced by inverter manufacturer SMA that it would supply central inverters, battery inverters and an SMA Fuel Save Controller to the project. Although the dependency on diesel will not entirely be removed therefore, it is hoped that the plant could reduce diesel fuel use by 1.9 million litres a year, generating 7,500MWh of power annually, which could meet regional demand by 50%.

Batteries selected by Isotron’s parent company, Isastur Group will be Saft’s Intensium Max containerised lithium-ion systems. According to a release by Saft in October announcing that deal, the 5MW of solar generation will be coupled with a 16MW diesel generator, along with two Intensium Max systems with a nominal storage capacity of 580kWh and 1.1MW each. According to Saft, 2MW of electricity from the Pando plant was connected in September, with the rest expected to go online before the end of 2014. The deal was Saft’s first energy storage system (ESS) contract in South America, the company said.

Commenting on the module supply deal, Yingli Green Spain’s managing director Fernando Calisalvo called Isotron one of Yingli’s “long-term strategic partners” and said the project was “a landmark project in Bolivia and globally due to its large scale, the combination of traditional power generation and energy storage with PV, and the number of connected consumers”.

Liansheng Miao, chairman and chief executive of the China-based parent company said Yingli Green expected the PV plant to have a “transformative impact” on the area.

“As Bolivia's first large-scale solar power system, we expect that this project will have a transformative impact in the region,” Miao said.

“Thanks to the combination of solar PV, energy storage, and diesel fuel generation in a single large-scale power plant, thousands of individuals in Bolivia now have access to reliable, clean electricity, which opens up dramatic possibilities for business development, education, and community empowerment.”

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