First Private Utility-Scale Solar Park in Mexico

Chihuahua utility-scale solar park
Namúrachi in Chihuahua.

On April 14, 2016, Buenavista Renewables (BVR), OCI Solar Power(OCISP), the La Salle educational network and Leoni Cable celebrated construction of Mexico’s first private utility-scale solar park with a ceremonial solar panel installation at the Los Santos Solar I solar park in Moctezuma, Chihuahua, Mexico. This project is the first utility-scale solar park to supply energy to private off-takers in Mexico via a 20 year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The $40 million utility-scale solar plant received financing from the North American Development Bank (NADB) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The plant will provide energy to La Salle educational network’s northern district and Leoni Cables, SA de C.V., a German-based company and leader in the production of cables and cable systems.

Los Santos Solar I is the first of a multi-stage project. This phase consists of 52,000 photovoltaic panels that will contribute to the wellbeing of the planet by displacing more than 16,500 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide (CO2) and fifty-seven metric tons per year of nitrogen oxides (NOx). This is equal to removing almost four thousand vehicles from the road each year or supplying electricity to twelve thousand homes.

“Chihuahua is the largest state of Mexico and a world leader in solar resources. Our state has a large and venerable agricultural and ranching industry which has been hit by climate change. This has resulted in tracts of barren, unusable land,” said the Governor of the State of Chihuahua, César Horacio Duarte Jáquez. “In this situation, citizens of Chihuahua have bravely turned to the industrial sector. This land, currently unused, coupled with our sun, can deliver to Mexico clean and permanent energy, helping to curb the devastating effects caused by climate change.”

According to Dr. Miguel Ángel Valdez, Rector of Universidad La Salle Chihuahua, a Catholic educational network, “Pope Francis, through the first Green Encyclical, has invited the world to improve the planet and respect mother earth by taking care of the environment.” Brother Valdez added that this solar plant will benefit La Salle’s educational programs, especially their Alternative Energies engineering degree.

Bill Livengood, President of LEONI Cable Inc., further added, “We are proud to be a core partner in this project and to take a leadership role for sustainability in the automotive cable industry. This will further complement our activities in product and material development that help reduce vehicle weight and support the electrification of the automobile.”

BVR served as lead developer on this project with investment and project consultation provided by OCI Solar Power, an international solar developer based in San Antonio, Texas. When the Los Santos I project is complete, OCI will acquire ownership of the project and operate the project for the remainder of the PPA.

“Mexico is a country with tremendous potential for solar development. We are pleased to be entering into this market as solar emerges as a highly competitive energy source,” said SH Yoon, President and CEO of OCI Solar Power. “We look forward to continued work with BVR and additional projects in Mexico.”

Finally, Jose Ruiz, President and CEO of Buenavista Renewables Mexico, expressed his gratitude to all the stakeholders involved in Los Santos Solar I. “Without the confidence of our investors, the perseverance of the OCI and BVR teams, the assistance of our banks, the guidance of SENER, the support of the state government, and the visionary leadership of La Salle and Leoni Cable we wouldn’t be here today at this very emblematic ceremony.”

BVR was advised in the project by Holland & Knight, Chadbourne & Parke, Greenberg Traurig, and GSSG Solar, LLC.

Image credit: By Lyricmac – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

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