Giant solar farm in Tecate, Mexico, will likely be world’s largest CPV farm

Work will soon begin on a 450-megawatt concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) farm in Tecate, in the Mexican state of Baja California. The project may be the world’s largest CPV plant when completed and could provide power locally and to the U.S.

The farm will use SolFocus arrays and will be built and brought online in 50-megawatt segments. Construction on the first 50 megawatts is slated to begin later this year with completion projected for 2016. The project will be owned and operated by SolMex Energy S.A. de C.V., a company formed by Mexico’s Grupo Musa, which owns the land its being built on and U.S.’s Synergy Technologies, which is designing the project. The first four 50-MW installations are being financed with $720 million in debt financing by FINEXIM.

“At the end of next year, it’s apt to be the largest [CPV project],” said SolFocus spokesperson Nancy Hartsoch. However, she conceded that some CPV projects of similar or larger size may soon be announced in China. ”But as far as we know it’s certainly the biggest.”

At the onset most of the power generated by the plant will be used by Grupo Muse, which owns a lot of real estate in the region. It will likely be used for purposes like powering the company’s properties and water pumping, Hartsoch said.

“I would expect the first 150 megawatts will definitely be consumed in Mexico,” she said. But other generation capacity could be sold either in the U.S. or Mexico.

To meet the needs of the project and some others, SolFocus will ramp up production at its current manufacturing, which can manufacture 50 MW of modules annually facility and, and with a subcontractor, will build another, 100-MW manufacturing facility closer to the solar farm, which is virtually on the border between California and Mexico.

The new facility will cost roughly $12 to $15 million and take about a year to build. The first 50 MW of modules will be manufactured at the existing plant with and modules for future tranches will be built at the new facility, according to Hartsoch.