Of the total capacity of the photovoltaic plant, 229 MWp (180 MW nominal) will be used to supply energy to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), following the award won in the second long-term energy auction held in September 2016.
Another 114 MWp (90 MW nominal) comes under a private energy purchase and sale contract between the consortium that owns the project and the company Tuto Energy Trading. This capacity will be sent to the installations of a major Mexican industrial group.
Finally, the energy produced by the remaining 61 MWp (47.5 MW nominal) will be sold on the wholesale electricity market following the extension of the scope of the project, with a view to optimizing its generation capacity in an area with an excellent solar resource.
Puerto Libertad will cover almost 10 km2 in the municipality of the same name near the Mar de Cortés coast in the Gulf of Baja California, around 200 kilometers north-west of Hermosillo, capital of the State of Sonora.
The facility that will head the ranking of the biggest photovoltaic plants in Latin America will be equipped with 1,222,800 polycrystalline silicon panels mounted on horizontal tracker systems. These are programmed to track the sun’s path across the sky from dawn to dusk. Placed in a straight line, the structures (20,380 units, each one 59.46 meters long) would cover a distance of 1,212 kilometers, similar to the distance between Mexico City and Houston.
With a total solar capture area of 2.4 km2 (equivalent to 333 soccer fields), Puerto Libertad will produce around 963 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of power per year, sufficient to cover the electricity demand of 583,000 Mexican homes. As it is renewable, this energy will avoid the emission of 925,443 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere from coal-fired power stations, representing a cleaning effect on the atmosphere of more than 46 million trees.
ACCIONA Energía will carry out the turnkey construction of the plant in the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) modality. It will also undertake its operation and maintenance for two years, after which time this function will be taken over by a joint venture set up by the two partners in the project.
The construction phase will run until the first trimester of 2019. During that time an average 500 direct jobs will be created, with activity peaks of up to 900 workers. In the operational phase, the plant will provide stable employment for 38 people.