A groundbreaking ceremony took place Wednesday to begin construction on the photovoltaic Salinas Solar Park, the first of three solar energy production projects developed and operated in Puerto Rico by partner companies Sonnedix and Yarotek.
The project represents an investment of more than $36 million, Sonnedix CEO Andreas Mustad said.
Located on 140 acres in the Aguirre district, the project will consist of two phases. During the first phase, 10 megawatts of power will be installed. During a second phase, the project will entail the installation of 16 Conext XC 630 inverters provided by Schneider Electric, along with a substation and transmission line that will connect the Salinas Solar Park with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s network beginning April 2013.
“For Sonnedix, Puerto Rico has become our gateway to the Americas,” said Mustad. “The island has begun to take important steps to reduce its dependency on oil through the use of renewable energy, creating a clear and effective regulatory framework that promotes investment and jobs. Our company has committed to invest more than $200 million in Puerto Rico.”
Global Energy Services will serve as the general contractor for the Salinas Solar Park, which will create around 120 jobs during the construction period. It is estimated that production from the first 10 MW phase will provide power to 2,500 detached homes.
“We’re confident that the partnership between Sonnedix and Yarotek will represent a major ally for Puerto Rico in reaching its goals to increase clean energy production,” said Samy Esayag, President of Yarotek.
A number of government representatives were on hand the ceremony, including Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock, Salinas Mayor Carlos Rodríguez-Mateo and Economic Development and Commerce Secretary José R. Pérez-Riera.
“Four years ago, Puerto Rico didn’t have a single solar panel or wind turbine generating electricity on a commercial scale,” said McClintock. “Thanks to the efforts of Governor [Luis] Fortuño, who has promoted and encouraged renewable energy projects like the Salinas Solar Park, for which construction began today, Puerto Rico, within five months, will have more than a quarter million photovoltaic panels and 60 wind turbines generating hundreds of megawatts of renewable energy, displacing the expensive, dirty and unstable oil that has enslaved Puerto Rico for close to a century.”
The Salinas project joins the AES Ilumina solar project in Guayama, as well as several other wind-based renewable energy projects in Santa Isabel and Naguabo, which are already producing power.
“Now more than ever, Puerto Rico must accelerate its search for alternatives in order to reduce our dependency on oil and achieve the reduction in energy costs we all yearn for,” said Rodríguez-Mateo. “Today, Salinas has taken a giant step in promoting sustainable energy development that will place Puerto Rico among the most advanced regions in the 21st century.”
Sonnedix currently operates a number of plants in Spain, France, Italy and Thailand. The company also has several projects being developed and under construction in countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.
In Puerto Rico, the Salinas Solar Park will be the first in operation, followed by two others in Isabela and Yabucoa. At the conclusion of the three Sonnedix and Yarotek projects, more than 80 MW of solar energy will be produced and will be made available to supply PREPA’s demand, company officials said.