Sao Goncalo solar plant is a 608MW photovoltaic (PV) solar power facility being developed in Piaui in Brazil. It is considered to be the biggest PV project in South America.
Enel Green Power Brasil Participações (EGPB), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enel Group, is building the solar farm in two sections of 475MW and 133MW capacities. EGPB will also operate the facility.
Construction on the 475MW section that involved an investment of £304m ($390m) was started in October 2018, while its commissioning took place in January 2020.
Construction on the 133MW expansion of the Sao Goncalo solar facility was started in August 2019 with its commissioning expected by the end of 2020. The estimated investment for the expansion project is approximately £91m ($111m).
Once fully operational, the 608MW Sao Goncalo solar farm is expected to generate more than 1,500GWh of electricity a year, while offsetting 860,000 tonnes (t) of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Sao Goncalo solar plant location and site details
The 475MW section of the Sao Goncalo solar project has been developed on an 892.5ha-site in Sao Goncalo do Gurguei, a municipality in the north-eastern state of Piaui, Brazil.
Sao Goncalo solar plant make-up and infrastructure
The 475MW section of the South American PV solar facility is installed with approximately 1.23 million bifacial solar modules mounted on 12,278 single-axis SF7 bifacial trackers from Soltec, in multiple rows. The rated capacity of each module of the solar farm is 385 watt-peak (Wp).
Similar bifacial solar modules and trackers are also being used for the 133MW expansion project.
The SF7 trackers are chosen for the project for cost-effective installation, operation, and maintenance.
The SF7 bifacial design allows for sunlight capture both on the front and rear sides. With the rear side capable of capturing sunlight reflected from the surface beneath the tracker, it can yield up to 25% more solar power compared to conventional trackers.
Supported by seven piles, each SF7 horizontal single-axis tracking system is fitted with 90 solar modules and has tracking range exceeding 120o. It uses 46% fewer piles for each megawatt generation compared to conventional trackers, resulting in better use of land.
The SF7 trackers feature an enclosed slewing drive with DC motor and are designed to operate at a temperature range between -40°C and +55°C. The trackers have self-lubricating bearings and feature aisles that are double in width compared to conventional trackers.
With cable running through the torque tube, the SF7 tracker system also eliminates hanging wires, while reducing the total wire use by 83%.
The Sao Goncalo Greenfield solar project is being entirely financed by Enel Green Power, which won the bid to build, own, and operate the facility at the lowest tariff for 20 years, in the A-4 public tender organised by the Brazilian federal government through the country’s electricity regulator ANEEL in 2017.
The Sao Goncalo solar project is backed by a 20-year power supply agreement for 388MW with a pool of distribution companies operating in Brazil. Enel Green Power Brasil Participações (EGPB) was granted authorisation to sign the power supply contract in December 2017.
EGPB plans to sell the remaining 220MW generated by the solar farm in the open market.
The contract to supply 12,278 SF7 bifacial trackers for the Sao Goncalo solar plant was awarded to Soltec, a photovoltaic solar tracker manufacturer based in Spain, in June 2019.
The company was also responsible for installing the trackers along with the bifacial modules.