Puerto Libertad solar power plant is being built on a 1,144ha site in Sonora, Mexico. Image courtesy of ACCIONA.
The Puerto Libertad solar project broke ground in January 2018. Image courtesy of ACCIONA.
The Puerto Libertad solar park is expected to be operational in 2019. Image courtesy of ACCIONA.

Puerto Libertad solar power plant is a 404MW solar photovoltaic (PV) project under construction in the state of Sonora, Mexico, approximately 196km away from the US-Mexico border. It is considered to be one of the biggest solar power projects in Latin America.

The PV solar plant is being developed by a 50:50 joint venture between ACCIONA Energia and Tuto Energy, a subsidiary of BioFields.

Construction on the project started in January 2018, while operations are expected to commence in 2019.

The plant is expected to generate 963GWh of electricity a year, which will be enough to meet the energy requirement of 583,000 Mexican households.The project is expected to create 900 temporary jobs during construction phase and 38 permanent jobs during operational phase.

Puerto Libertad solar project development details

The Puerto Libertad solar project got environmental clearance from the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources, Mexico, in January 2015.

It also received archeological clearance from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History in January 2017, which was followed by the signing of land lease agreement in the same month.

Two separate power purchase agreements (PPA) for the project were signed with Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and Tuto Energy Trading, for 227MW and 114MW respectively in January 2017.

Acciona and Tuto Energy closed financing for the 404MW solar power project in July 2018.

Puerto Libertad solar power plant make-up

The Puerto Libertad solar power plant is being developed on a 1,144ha site with a solar capture area of 2.4km².

It will be equipped with approximately 1.22 million polycrystalline silicon panels mounted on  20,380 horizontal single-axis tracking structures.

Measuring 59.46m-long each, the photovoltaic structures will be installed in a straight line covering a distance of roughly 1.2km.

Electricity transmission

The electricity captured by the solar panels will be converted into alternating current (AC) with the use of inverters before transmission through underground cables to a 34.5/230kV onsite collector substation.

The electricity will be stepped-up to 230kV at the substation and further transmitted to the CFE national grid through the Puerto Libertad-Santa Ana transmission line.

Financing for the photovoltaic solar project

ACCIONA Energia and Tuto Energy signed a $264m financing agreement for the solar project with four banks including North American Development Bank (NADB), Banco Nacional de Obras y Servicios of Mexico (BANOBRAS), Instituto de Crédito Oficial of Spain (ICO), and Banco SABADELL banks, in July 2018.

The four banks are providing 25% loan each, with a repayment period of 18 years.

Contractors involved

ACCIONA is responsible for the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) of the project. It will also operate and maintain the plant for an initial two years before the joint venture takes over the operatorship.

JA Solar, a solar development company based in China, was awarded the contract to supply the photovoltaic modules for the Puerto Libertad solar power plant in August 2018.

STI Norland supplied the solar trackers for the project.