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A sea of solar panels in Coahuila. A sea of solar panels in Coahuila.

Sunflowers in the desert: solar panels follow the sun in Coahuila

Villanueva solar plant, to be fully operational later this year, covers 2,400 hectares

Strange looking sunflowers follow the sun as it moves across the sky, but instead of bright yellow blossoms a deep blue extends over 2,400 hectares of arid land in Viesca, Coahuila.

The eye could be fooled and interpret this landscape as an inland sea but upon further inspection, the truth emerges. This is the huge Villanueva solar photovoltaic plant, the size of 2,200 soccer fields, installed and operated by the Italian firm Enel Green Power.

A key element of the installation is the mechanism that allows the movement of the panels to follow — like sunflowers — the sun’s path and maximize the benefits of the solar rays.

Representing an investment of US $650 million, the 2.3 million solar panels will be able to produce more than 1,700 GWh per year once fully operational in the second half of this year, providing 1.3 million households with green electrical power.

The Villanueva plant will be the largest facility of its kind in America and will only be surpassed in size by similar behemoths installed in India and China.

An agreement between Enel and the federal government is part of the latter’s goal to have 43% of all energy needs generated through renewable methods by 2024.

After the constitutional reforms of 2013, which allowed for foreign capital to invest in the country’s energy sector, an estimated $8.6 billion has been invested in renewable energy, benefitting 6.5 million households, according to government figures.

Enel Green Power Mexico is the largest renewable energy operator in the country in terms of installed capacity and project portfolio. In addition to the Villanueva solar plant, the firm is building the Amistad wind farm, also in Coahuila, the Don José solar project in Guanajuato and the Salitrillos Wind Farm in Tamaulipas.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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