The Large Family of Don José
“Solar photovoltaic plants are associated with large expanses of desert; areas where you can hardly see a cloud on the horizon. But this project is different. Here, grass grows under the panels”. That’s how Juan Pablo Justiniano, Enel Green Power Project Manager in Mexico, describes the Don José solar project.
The plant’s panels, distributed in double rows with a tracker that rotates 65 degrees to follow the sun, are spread out around the town of San Luis de la Paz, in the Mexican state of Guanajuato – a name that means “hill of frogs” in the purépecha language – historically known for its agriculture and animal farming.
"The photovoltaic plant is accessed from roads surrounded by small gardens and field of corn, beans, barley, grain and various kinds of fruit farmed in the area. These fields are generally immersed in sun, a resources that is abundant in the region."
More than a group: a family
Projects like Don José usually face two kinds of challenges. One is the construction deadlines: photovoltaic plants are usually built in a short time, compared to other renewable technologies. On the other hand, there are the logistical challenges.
Don José has millions of pieces that are sent to Mexico from various countries. The planning, therefore, needs to respect a precise timeline, both from Enel Green Power and the contractors the project is developed with (Soltec, Aselec, Tozzi and Nidec), indispensable partners.
"The recipe for tackling these challenges successfully is simple, though not always easy to put into practice: teamwork."
The leaders of the Don José project made sure to have all the right ingredients at their disposal to overcome the challenge.
On the one hand, there is the vast international experience of Enel Green Power in the construction of this kind of plant. The local group has the advantage of counting on colleagues from Chile, Peru and Brazil, among other countries, with solid experience from other projects behind them.
Don José, together with Villanueva, is one of the first large-scale projects with solar technology in Mexico, so the transfer of knowledge is key for the continued development of best practices.
However, more than technical knowledge is necessary for the success of the project. Teamwork is key, as the plant ends up becoming a place occupied by a family, brought together by a common goal. So far, more than 200 people from the area have been recruited for construction work.
"Don José is being built by all of us. Enel Green Power, our contractors and the members of the community that welcome us into their homes and offer us help."
Javier Vilchis, coordinator manager at Don José
Don José is one of two projects awarded to Enel Green Power Mexico in the first long term tender held in the country. The construction phase started on 4 April this year.
The project involves an investment of about 220 million dollars and the goal is to bring it to maximum production in the second half of 2018. Once completed, it will have an installed capacity in direct current of 238 MW.