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An ocean of sun within the Mexican desert

5 min.

An ocean of sun within the Mexican desert

The first photovoltaic panel of the EGP’s Villanueva solar power plant, located in the Coahiula desert, was installed. It is EGP’s largest PH facility under construction in the Americas and Enel’s largest solar project worldwide. More than 2.3 million solar panels are going to be installed.

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Torreón, the state capital city of Coahiula, is surrounded by an immense desert. Millions of years ago, this area has been a sea and now it is a fascinating combination of dunes and vegetation able to cope with extreme conditions such as heat and water shortage.  However, there is more to it than that. The desert can be deceptive and might seem a wasteland, but it is a place with plenty of animal life.

30 minutes from Torreón, located in Viesca, Enel Green Power is building the Villanueva solar power plant, the largest solar project in the Americas. The solar panels of Villanueva will soon be extended over an area of 2.400 hectares.

This “solar” ocean  will replace the prehistoric sea and will pay particular attention to the protection of the current wildlife. The project includes some more 600 hectares ( which makes a total of 3.000 hectares) intended for the relocation of local plants and  animals, such as snakes, field mice, lizards or a local alligator specie called Anolis porcatus.

Villanueva’s first solar panel was installed recently. The remaining 2.299.999 panels are on their way in order to mould this huge solar power plant. Enel’s largest solar power plant worldwide. The first panel represents a milestone as well as a reason for pride of the team involved.


"We have a great multidisciplinary and international team. Electricians, mechanical electricians, civil engineers from Chile, Brazil, Panama and Mexico."
Belarmino Ramírez, Plant Site Manager of Enel Green Power


Innovation “via satellite”

The Villanueva project, which requires an investment of US$ 650 million, is divided into two phases: Villanueva 1 with 427 MW; Villanueva 3 with 327 MW: the overall 754 MW facility is expected to generate over 1.711 GW, avoiding the emission of more than 783,638 tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Villanueva is also an important innovative showcase. The logistics, for example, ensure real-time controlling of each component of the plant, which can be located thanks to GPS sensors.


"Thanks to a barcode-based system as well as to the use of wireless laser barcode scanners it is possible to send information to the main database, controlling at the same time the project’s material stock."


A custom software enables us to check real-time the information provided by these devices.


Sustainability and shared value

For Enel, Villanueva is also for a second reason a showcase project since it is planned according to the approach of sustainable construction site.  

Right from the beginning of the project, we paid maximum attention to the minimization of the impacts on the environment by controlling key factors such as energy consumption, waste recycling or water consumption.


"Both the team working at the construction site and the stakeholders involved, were instructed to apply the idea of a sustainable construction site in their everyday worklife."

Villanueva is also a showcase of our CSV business concept.  We reached an agreement with the local communities and the local authorities on recycling the wooden pallets used during the construction for the construction of furnishing.

Enel Green Power signed also agreements with local educational facilities in order to teach local people for instance apiculture. This way people can realize beehives for both honey production and environment protection.

The power plant is expected to enter into service in the second half of 2018. Thanks to the completion of the plant, the arid will become a renewable energy source and a contribution to the country’s development.

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