Gauss Energía built Aura Solar I in La Paz, Baja California Sur, a plant with an installed capacity of 39 MWp. Aura Solar I generates 82 GWh annually, equivalent to the consumption of 65 percent of the city of La Paz, Baja California Sur.
The facility covers a surface of 100 hectares and includes the installation of 132,000 polycrystalline solar modules with single-axis tracking technology, and a useful life of 30 years.
The PV solar facility adjoins the La Paz Industrial Park (to the northeast), and 2.9 kilometers to the south is the Olas Altas electrical substation owned by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).
La Paz is a region with one of the highest average solar irradiance indexes in the country, more than 5.8 kWh/m2 per day.
The site has a certificate of immunity from land-reform endowments since 1980, which means that the construction of the project did not generate further environmental impact in the area. With regard to zoning, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) ruled that the area where the plant is located had no forest vegetation that might be affected.
Aura Solar I has an electrical power generation permit for the “Small Producer” regime from the Energy Regulation Council (CRE). CFE is the sole offtaker of power produced by the facility (82 GWh/year) under a 20-year PPA. CFE pays for the energy supplied based on the short-run total cost (CTCP) at the La Paz node.
Aura Solar I is interconnected with the Olas Altas substation through a new 2.9-km long, 115 kv transmission line, and has been delivering energy to the CFE since September 2013.
Unlike other solar facilities of this size in the world, Aura Solar I receives no subsidy from any public or private agency. It is the first large-scale solar project developed under the small producer scheme, and currently the largest solar plant in Mexico.
Aura Solar I has been a key force in promoting sustainable development in Baja California Sur, complementing the efforts of both the state government and the municipality of La Paz to protect the environment in this region.
The facility helps to substantially reduce the consumption of fossil fuels in power generation and avoids the emission of 45,000 metric tons of CO2 a year. It also avoids logistical risks involved in importing and transporting fuel through environmentally sensitive areas like the Sea of Cortez, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
The plant also contributed to the social and economic development in the region, generating more than 400 direct jobs during its construction. Workers also received training in the installation of high technology for sustainable electrical power generation.
Aura Solar I is owned by Corporación Aura Solar. Gauss Energía designed the development strategy and structuring of the project. Furthermore, because of the sustainable nature of the project, Nacional Financiera (Nafin) and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) contributed a combined 75 percent of the total investment in the project in the form of debt. CFE is the sole offtaker.
Founded in 2004, Gauss Energía is leader in the development of investment projects specialized in the energy sector in Mexico, whose strength is to generate integrated solutions through sustainable and bankable projects.
IFC is a member of the World Bank Group, the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries. It was established in 1956 and is owned by 184 member countries.
Development bank, backed by the Mexican government, focused on providing training and financing to SMEs.
Martifer Solar is a leading global player in engineering and construction services in the photovoltaic market, which has implemented 560 MW of solar energy all over the world.
Black & Veatch, founded in 1915, is a leading global engineering company. Due to its solid experience, B&V was an independent advisor to CAS and supervised the construction and startup of Aura Solar I.