Project: The La Travesia Solar Park


The new solar project in San Juan on behalf of the government—in this case overseen by EPSE—is called La Travesía because of its closeness to a dry river of the same name. It is set apart from the other solar projects in the province because it will be the first PV plant in San Juan—and in the country—to have grid-connected battery storage. This particular quality will allow the province to manage things economically in a more convenient manner; the system will be able to provide “main frequency regulation” service, which is being required of large generators and industrial users and solar parks cannot do—unless equipped with a battery like this. It is also possible to provide a “secondary frequency regulation” service in which you can charge the battery storage at moments when energy is the cheapest (at 5 in the morning) and send it to the market at times when it is more expensive (at 8 pm). Jujuy has solar plants with storage but they are not grid-connected.

Lucas Estrada is in charge of the solar area at EPSE; he says that the project requires an investment of 65 million USD and the progess is being made on obtaining a soft loan from the IDB. The project is not financed yet, but hopes are still high to be able to tender out the project before the end of the year. Hopefully construction will start in 2020.

The project will be located on a plot of 180 hectares of the Ullum Solar Park and, even though the La Travesía project is 57 MW, construction is planned for two separate stages so that financing may also be staggered.

The first stage will incur a cost of 25 million USD and will see a 21 MW solar park constructed; the park will be made up of 7 sections of 3 MW each. The 4 MW storage area will also be constructed, and will be inside two 40 foot shipping containers filled with lithium batteries.

The second stage will include an expansion of the solar panel area towards the northern part of the lot, adding 36 MW more of installed power. EPSE has stated that there is already existing capacity in the Ullum substation and in the power lines to send all electricity generated in La Travesia in both of its stages.

The grand novelty of this park is that it will allow for the storage of part of the energy produced by the PV generating system during set periods of time to later send back to the grid at other points in time, according to established project criteria and goals.

The commercialization of renewable energy in the electric wholesale market creates the obligation for these users to have a part of their energy mix coming from renewable sources. Many are not able to choose an electricity provider, so the operator of the national grid—CAMMESA--makes purchases that include renewable-based energy in order to satisfy this requirement. Since the La Travesia park will have battery storage, it will be able to participate in tenders for the selling of energy produced. It will also be able to sell this service to other solar parks.

Estrada explained that the project also has a scientific connection to the Electric Energy Institute of the National University at San Juan that aims to study these systems and implementations for future

“smart grids.” Estrada continued, “The project has a social aim and also one towards research and development, which makes it able to be considered for financing by BID.”

A Hub in Ullum

The new solar park is to be developed in the lot of the Ullum Solar Park, an impressive design in a department with the same name that is being developed exclusively by EPSE for solar PV parks. The land has 1053 hectares in total and is set to have between 350 and 370 MW installed in the end. The park is divided into different lots that are in private hands in several instances. Also on the premises is the pilot solar plant that EPSE expanded on this past year that generates energy enough for 850 homes. San Juan has a third of the solar energy handed out by the country in the RenovAr program: 550 MW from a total of 1700 MW nationally.

Multiple Advantages

Fossil fuel: The La Travesía Park will allow for annual storage equivalent to 10 million m3 of natural gas, 11,000 ton of petrol and 22,150 of diesel. In other words, 22,150 of carbon that releases contaminants.

Clean energy: The project continues to increase the use of renewable energy in San Juan, which follows in accordance to the legislation on renewable energy set by the National Government that is being implemented.

Research: The incorporation of energy-storage technology by means of batteries that allow for research and innovation in terms of applications and advantages of interconnected grid-systems.

Elizabeth Pérez. Diario de Cuyo