Grid Connected Solar PV Facility for Central America

Apparently there aren’t very many large photovoltaic (PV) systems in Central America and none that are grid-connected. Germany’s Phonix SonnenStrom AG is undertaking what they say will be the largest PV project in the region and the first grid-connected one. The 20 kW will be installed on the roof of the German School in Antiguo Cuscatlan, a suburb of the capital city of San Salvador.

It is one of four projects awarded under the “Solar Roofs on German Schools and Facilities Abroad” program of the Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH, dena (German energy agency), entitled Renewable Energy Export Initiative”. In each project a PV demonstration plant will be installed, flanked by activities aimed at developing the market, such as press work, marketing and training measures. The San Salvador German School solar roof project is being financed by a public-private partnership involving the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Labor and sources of private funding. The private project costs are being borne by Phonix SonnenStrom AG, SMA Technologie AG and Rosendahl Energietechnik GmbH, as well as by a large number of individual donations collected from parents and local companies through the enthusiastic commitment of the German School in San Salvador. The start of construction was 21 February 2005. The solar electricity plant is to be installed on the roof of the kindergarten which belongs to the German School. The electricity generated will be used primarily by the school and the kindergarten. Any surplus electricity will be sold to the grid of Del Sur, a local utility. Phonix’s role is to manage the project in terms of planning, development, and the delivery of the components right through to the construction of the plant itself. Rosendahl Energietechnik GmbH was responsible for the detailed planning and layout of the inverters. The project has been facilitated by the fact that Gerson Castillo, Phonix’s project leader, is originally from El Salvador. He has thus been able to rapidly build up good contacts with local partners in his home country. On the El Salvador side, this prestigious project is being actively supported by the German Embassy, the German-Salvadorian Chamber of Commerce, the German School, the University of Central America and the utility company Del Sur. The solar electricity plant will be inaugurated on 7 April in San Salvador in the presence of VIPs. Antonio Saca, the President of El Salvador, who gave met personally with representatives of Phonix in January and who, according to the company “has shown a lively interest in solar electricity,” has announced his intention to come.
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