Aura Solar I

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 13:21

Located in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Aura Solar I is the first large-scale photovoltaic project in Mexico and the second largest in Latin America, preceded only by Amanecer Solar Cap in Chile. La Paz is one of the regions in Mexico with the highest solar irradiation levels, with a global horizontal irradiation of 5.7kWh/ m2, and an average of 250 sunny days per year. The conditions in this region enable Aura Solar I, with its installed capacity of 39MWp, to generate 82GWh per year, which is enough energy to supply 65% of La Paz’s population. Aura Solar I was completed in a record time of seven months and began producing electricity from sunlight in 2013. Unlike similar projects in other parts of the world, Aura Solar I does not receive any subsidies.

The electricity generated in Aura Solar I is to be exclusively supplied to CFE, as stated in the negotiable 20-year PPA. A 2.9km long 115kV transmission line will deliver electricity to the Olas Altas substation. The solar park is owned by Corporación Aura Solar, which invested US$100 million in the project in collaboration with NAFINSA and the International Finance Corporation. Gauss Energía, a leader in renewable energy projects, was in charge of development, and Martifer Solar was in charge of providing EPC services, while the solar panels were supplied by Suntech. Close to 132,000 single axis polycrystalline modules were installed across 100 hectares in the La Paz industrial park. The Aura Solar I solar park has an expected working life of 30 years.

Unlike most Mexican states, Baja California Sur is not connected to the national grid or the national gas pipeline system. Instead, the state uses diesel and fuel oil to generate electricity. Aura Solar I will have a significant impact on lowering the use of fossil fuels for energy generation in Baja California Sur, preventing 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere. Additionally, the project will mitigate the logistical risks of transporting hydrocarbons through the Sea of Cortez. The photovoltaic site has been certified due to its lack of impact on the surrounding area, and SEMARNAT has stated that there is no vegetation that could be negatively affected in the zone. During its development, Aura Solar I was poised to be a key project, as it would encourage the construction of more large-scale solar parks at a time when small pilot projects dominated Mexico’s solar energy sector.