Located in Minas Gerais State, Brazil, the 399MW Pirapora solar complex is the biggest operating solar photovoltaic facility in Latin America.

The Pirapora solar park is made up of three solar power plants namely Pirapora I, Pirapora II, and Pirapora III with a capacity of 191.5MW, 115MW, and 92.5MW respectively.

Pirapora I and III were commissioned together in November 2017, while Pirapora II was commissioned in mid-2018. Pirapora I and III are estimated to generate 392GWh and 186GWh respectively, while Pirapora II is expected to produce 232GWh a year of solar power.

The solar power project is expected to contribute towards the nation’s goal of generating up to 23% of energy from non-hydro renewable sources by 2030.

Omega Geração holds 50% stake in the Pirapora solar power complex, while EDF Renewables, a subsidiary of Electricite de France (EDF), holds the remaining 50% stake.

Omega Geração acquired stake in the project in December 2018 for BRL1.1bn ($283m), which included 20% stake from Canadian Solar and 30% from EDF EN do Brasil.

Pirapora solar complex make-up

The Pirapora solar complex is built over approximately 400 hectares (ha) of land within an 800ha property leased from an individual farmer for 30 years.

The solar complex consists of approximately 1.23 million CS6U-P solar panels supplied by Canadian Solar, mounted on horizontal-axis trackers for the maximum utilization of the solar energy.

Canadian Solar acquired the Pirapora I solar farm from Solatio. The plant consists of five solar farms with an installed capacity of 30MW each and associated transmission system. It generates power using 600,000 CS6U-P modules.

The Pirapora II and III solar farms comprise three solar farms each.

EDF EN do Brasil constructed and is operating the Pirapora III solar farm, which uses 290,000 solar modules to generate power.

Financing for the Pirapora solar complex

In November 2018, EDF Renewables and Canadian Solar (CSI) secured financing of R$1.39bn ($373m) from multiple financiers for the Pirapora Solar complex.

EDF and CSI raised approximately R$220m ($59m) for the Pirapora I solar power project in a private placement of infrastructure debentures to institutional investors.

Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) provided a financing of R$529m ($142m) for Pirapora I in August 2017. Banco Itaú BBA, Banco Société Générale Brasil, and Banco ABC Brasil also provided construction financing for the project.

Banco do Nordeste and the Northeast Constitutional Fund provided a long-term financing of R$366m ($99m) for Pirapora II.

The third phase of Pirapora III is supported by the Brazilian Development Bank and the Brazilian National Climate Fund, which provided long-term financing of R$271m ($73m).

Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), through Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), has provided a term bridge loan of R$239m ($75m) for the Pirapora I solar project in June 2017.

Transmission and off-take of power generated at Pirapora

Power generated by the Pirapora I solar plant will be transmitted to the grid network through a 10.3km-long high-transmission line with a capacity 138kV.

The entire power generated by the Pirapora solar projects is sold to Power Commercialisation Chamber (CCEE) under a 20-year power purchase agreement awarded under the Reserve Energy Auctions organized by the Brazilian Government.

Contractors involved

Canadian Solar entered a joint venture with Flextronics Internacional Tecnologia (Flex) for developing the solar panels to be supplied for the Pirapora solar complex .

Biosar Brasil-Energia Renovavel, a subsidiary of AKTOR, awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the Pirapora I solar complex.

Biosar awarded a subcontract to Nextracker, a subsidiary of Flex, for providing the solar tracker units for the Pirapora II solar project under a master services agreement signed in November 2016.