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On Tuesday, 2 May, Oscar Ortiz, Vice-President of the Republic of El Salvador, inaugurated Providencia Solar, the country’s first solar power plant. Proparco has invested USD 30 million in this solar farm whose installed capacity of 100 MWc will make it Central America’s largest photovoltaic facility.

The 300,000 solar panels from Antares (75 MWc) and Spica (25 MWc) sub-stations located in La Paz department, 40 kilometres from the capital, will generate enough electricity to meet the annual consumption requirements of 176,000 people and the project marks an important milestone in boosting the proportion of renewable energy in the country’s overall energy mix.

An ambitious project

The project will cost a total of USD 150 million and in June 2016 Proparco granted a USD 30 million loan to cover part of the costs of construction and of operating the plant over the first 20 years of its life. The Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) (part of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)), and the Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in the Americas (C2F) are also major investors in the project: USD 57.7 million and USD 30 million, respectively .

Catalyst for a new energy era in El Salvador

It is estimated that the solar energy produced will replace the equivalent of 163,800 MWh of thermal energy a year while also cutting annual greenhouse gas emissions by 39,800 tonnes of CO². The inauguration of Providencia Solar confirms the competitiveness of solar power and is a key moment in the energy transition of El Salvador, which remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels (49%). 

As Emmanuelle Matz, Head of the Energy and Infrastructure Division explains, “by helping to develop this new technology here and by paving the way for other solar power projects, Proparco is helping El Salvador to achieve its objective of producing clean, cheaper energy.”

Showcasing French expertise

The construction of Providencia Solar has also highlighted the expertise of the French solar and wind power specialist Neoen which was recently awarded a tender put out by the Salvadoran Government in 2016 to build two solar power plants with a combined installed capacity of 136 MWc.

Partnering local development

The local communities living near the new solar plant should reap significant social and economic benefits from the project and 3% of revenues generated by the Antares plant will be re-invested in local projects.