Puerto Libertad photovoltaic plant is being built on a 1,144ha site in the State of Sonora, Mexico. Credit: ACCIONA.
The Puerto Libertad solar plant will use PV modules developed by JA Solar. Credit: ACCIONA.
Construction on the Puerto Libertad solar plant began in February 2018. Credit: ACCIONA.
The financing agreement for the Puerto Libertad solar PV plant was signed in July 2018. Credit: ACCIONA.

Puerto Libertad photovoltaic plant is a 317.5MW (404.5Mp) solar power plant being built in the State of Sonora, Mexico. It is anticipated to become Latin America’s biggest photovoltaic (PV) plant, upon completion.

ACCIONA Energía, and Tuto Energy, a subsidiary of the BioFields group, established a 50:50 joint venture (JV) to develop the Puerto Libertad solar power plant.

The environmental impact assessment (MIA) for the first 180MW section of the plant was submitted to the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in August 2014 and authorisation was obtained in January 2015.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the solar power plant was held in February 2018, while operations are expected to commence in early-2019.

The solar PV plant will produce 963GWh of clean energy a year, which will be enough to meet the annual electricity demand of 583,000 Mexican homes.

Puerto Libertad photovoltaic plant location and make-up

The solar power plant is being built on a 1,144ha site acquired under a 20-year lease agreement signed between the developer and a private landowner in January 2017.

The site is located 6km north-west of Puerto Libertad town in the State of Sonora. It has a solar capture area of 2.4km², which is equivalent to 333 soccer fields.

The solar park is divided into three sections – 180MW (227MWp), 90MW (114MWp) and 47.5MW (61MWp).

It will feature 1,222,800 polycrystalline silicon panels to capture energy from the sun from dawn to dusk. The PV modules will be mounted on 20,380 horizontal single-axis tracking structures having a combined length of 1,212km.

“It will offset 925,443t of CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations.”

The direct current (DC) captured by the solar panels will be converted into alternating current (AC) using inverters and will be stepped up by a 34.5/230kV collector substation to be built at the site.

The onsite 34.5/230kV substation will deliver electricity generated by the plant to the CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad) national grid through the Puerto Libertad-Santa Ana transmission line.

The solar park will also feature a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system as well as operation and maintenance facilities.

Project financing

North American Development Bank (NADB), Instituto de Crédito Oficial of Spain (ICO), Banco Nacional de Obras y Servicios of Mexico (BANOBRAS), and Banco SABADELL agreed to provide $264m financing for the Puerto Libertad photovoltaic plant under a financing agreement signed with the project partners ACCIONA Energía and Tuto Energy in July 2018.

The loan will be repaid over a period of 18 years.

Power purchase agreement details

The CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad) signed a contract in the second round of energy auction held in September 2016 to purchase the electricity produced by the 180MW component of the plant.

The electricity generated by the 90MW section will be sold under a private electricity purchase and sale contract signed by the project owners and Tuto Energy Trading in January 2017, while the remaining 47.5MW of energy will be supplied to the wholesale electricity market.

Puerto Libertad photovoltaic plant benefits

The Puerto Libertad solar PV plant is expected to create between 500 and 900 jobs during the construction phase and provide employment for 38 people in the operational phase.

It will offset 925,443t of CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations.

Key players involved

ACCIONA Energía is responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the solar park. It will also operate and maintain the plant for two years, following which the JV will undertake the operation and maintenance.

JA Solar was awarded a contract to supply high-efficiency solar PV modules for the Puerto Libertad solar park in August 2018.