When a new solar power plant goes online later in 2015, the city of La Paz, Mexico will be entirely powered by solar energy. Aura Solar I, the largest solar power plant in Latin America, went online in La Paz just last year and provides a whopping 64 percent of the power requirements for the city of just over 200,000 people. And in 2015, a second facility called Grupotec I is set to go online, adding the remainder of the city’s power requirements and making La Paz 100 percent solar powered – as well as part of a growing global movement toward solar power.
For a modestly sized city such as La Paz, its speedy ascent to green power and energy self-reliance is quite a feat. Aura Solar I replaced a large thermoelectric facility last year with its 30 MW output. Its 131,800 one-axis tracked polycrystalline photovoltaic modules are able to provide power for 164,000 people (64 percent of the population). The new Grupotec I facility will provide 40-42 percent of the power needs of La Paz via 97,000 photovoltaic panels spread over 44 acres, for a 30MW capacity, along with a 11MW of battery storage capacity.
Like Aura Solar I, Grupotec I will have a 20 year purchase power agreement with local utility, CFE. The power will be sold to the utility “at a rate equal to the current local cost of generation, by the two local diesel thermoelectric plants” – meaning that the residents of the solar-powered town are not likely to experience any substantial changes in their electric rates.
Located in the Baja California Sur region, La Paz is distinctly suited to solar due to its consistently sunny weather. As we reported last year “Experts say the area clocks in at about 7.5 kWh/m2/day, which is “about three times the average levels in Germany and 50 percent higher than southern California.”
Via Clean Technica