America’s largest PV plant comes online in Mexico

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Enel Green Power México, the Mexican unit of Italian renewable energy company, Enel Green Power, which is itself a unit of power utility, Enel, has announced that its Villanueva and Don José solar projects in Mexico have now reached final completion, including the expansion phases announced for both projects in May.

Overall, the company has brought online around 1,089 MW of PV capacity through the two initiatives, consisting of the 828 MW Villanueva project located in Villa Hidalgo, in the northwestern state of Coahuila, and the 260 MW Don José solar plant located in the state of Guanajuato. Thanks to the above-mentioned expansion plan, the Villanueva facility saw its total capacity increase by 74 MW, while the second project was expanded by 22 MW.

Enel said invested around US$950 million in the two projects, of which $710 million for the Villanueva plant and $240 million for the Don José project. In October, Enel sold an 80% stake in both projects for around $1.35 billion to Canadian institutional investor, Caisse de dépot et placement du Québec (CDPQ), and Mexican pension fund, CKD Infraestructura México S.A. de C.V. (CKD IM). At the time of the transaction, however, the projects had a combined capacity of 993 MW.

Both projects were selected by the Mexican Department of Energy (SENER) in its first power auction, held in 2016. Construction on the Villanueva project started in March 2017, while work on the Don José plant began a month later.

The projects have the backing of a contract for the sale of specific volumes of energy for 15 years, as well as 20-year Clean Energy Certificates with the Federal Electricity Commission. The option to expand the capacity of the facility by 10% was included in the original contract.

In Mexico’s first two auctions, which were held in 2016, PV projects with a combined capacity of 3.6 GW were selected. In both of them, around 1.8 GW of contracts for solar power projects were awarded. In the first auction, the final average price for solar power was $44.9/MWh, while in the second tender average price for PV was $31.7/MWh.