NEXTracker, a subsidiary of Flex company, announced it has started supplying its advanced single-axis trackers to the Villanueva solar facility, the largest photovoltaic (PV) power plant in the Western Hemisphere, which is currently under construction in the municipality of Viesca, Coahuila, 147 miles west of Saltillo, the state’s capital.
This grid-connected project of 754 megawatts will deliver energy to the Northern Mexico region under a long-term contract. Scheduled to enter commercial operation by mid-2018, NEXTracker has shipped over 200 MW to the project site to date, according to a press release.
NEXTracker manufactures a range of structural, mechanical and electrical components locally for this project. The tracker’s key drive and electrical components are fully sealed against sand and dust ingress–a critical factor for asset reliability in northern Mexico’s desert climate.
Notably, this project features NEXTracker’s new, internally developed SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system. Built on Flex’s cyber-secure connected intelligence platform, the system will provide industry-leading control and data collection and management capabilities, enhancing operational control and analysis of NEXTracker components.
“Mexico, along with India, Australia and the Middle East is part of a new wave of renewable energy markets poised for significant growth over the next few years,” said NEXTracker CEO Dan Shugar.
“Much of that growth will be supported by single-axis solar tracking technology. NEXTracker’s proven experience, and advanced software and tracker technology, help solar power plants operate more effectively with greater energy gains. With our local manufacturing program, local engineering design expertise and an office in Mexico City, this project has our full support,” Shugar added.
“It is with a sense of pride that we are witnessing in Mexico the installation of the largest solar power plant in the Western Hemisphere,” states Israel Hurtado, General Secretary of Asolmex, an Association of investors and PV plant developers.
“The unprecedented scale of this plant, combined with local manufacturing, solar job development and industry leading technology such as NEXTracker’s single-axis trackers, represents a huge boost to help us reach a 35% share of renewable energy target by 2024,” Hurtado said
The plant is designed to generate about 1,700 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy per year, offsetting annual emissions of more than 780,000 tons of CO2.
The plant will cover a land area equivalent to that of lower Manhattan amounting to over eight square miles and will generate enough output to power approximately 1.3 million Mexican households.
Mexico’s solar market is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years. The country’s energy ministry has recently awarded more than 4 GW of solar projects to independent power producers via the second renewable energy auction following the nation’s energy reform in 2014.
Most of the utility-scale projects slated for 2017-2018 in Mexico favor solar tracking due to high insolation and ideal land conditions. As part of the ‘sun belt,’ Mexico receives high annual solar irradiation across 85% of the country’s land area.