Oriana's Operational Details
Total capacity: 57.7 MW
Operational since: October 2016
Type: Ground Mounted
In order to enter the Puerto Rican market, Sonnedix had to agree that construction of its solar plants would comply with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA)’s minimum-technical requirements (MTRs), which were stricter than other jurisdictions where the company operates. To successfully adhere to PREPA’s regulations during the construction of Salinas, Sonnedix’ first solar plant in the country, the company partnered with a global team of experts to develop the first operational formula of its kind. But the process took almost 20 months to complete.
However, construction on Oriana, Sonnedix’s second power plant in Puerto Rico and the largest of its kind in the Caribbean, began at the start of 2016 and went live just 9 months later—despite being 4.5 times the size of Salinas. Thanks to working closely with PREPA and resourcefully applying learnings gleaned from its first project, Sonnedix was able to significantly reduce Oriana’s construction time to quickly reach mechanical completion.
At the peak of Oriana’s construction phase, Sonnedix employed 1,100 local residents, all of whom had been recruited through a joint effort with government employment offices in the area. In terms of unofficial employees, a well-respected local landowner who had previously raised his cattle on the site took to riding his horse around the construction area as a “supervisor de facto” of the plant’s progress.
Oriana is built on two sites, each about 100 acres large. The northern site is sandy and composed of a base layer of limestone rock, which represented a challenge in terms of laying the foundation for the platform. The southern site, being hilly, produced a different type of challenge. Rather than excavate the land to create a flat building surface, Sonnedix opted to build its platform along the slopes, as it not only had advantages in terms of work required to construct, but respecting the natural contours of the terrain now ensures that when the project finishes its lifetime and all the machinery is removed later, Sonnedix can leave the land as it was found. Another advantage arose after the site was complete, when locals driving along the road noticed that the undulating solar platforms resemble the ocean’s waves, adding man-made beauty to the landscape.
Operational since the end of 2016, Oriana meets the annual electricity needs of more than 12,000 homes and offsets 95,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year—the equivalent of planting 50,000 trees every year.