A cactus nursery in the desert

A cactus nursery in the desert

The protection of biodiversity and green technologies come together in the Dominica wind park in Mexico, where Enel Green Power is supporting a project that combines environmental sustainability and economic development for the Charcas community.


The blades of the Dominica 1 and Dominica 2 wind parks, in Mexico, soar into the sky like giant white daisies above a green sea of cactus, agaves and other plants of the Asparagaceae family typical of the Charcas area, about 140 kilometres from the city of San Luis Potosí.

It is an arid landscape in the heart of Mexico, which has been brought back to life creating an incredible scenery, perfect for the adventures of a modern Alice in Wonderland.

It is not a fantasy image, taken from a Walt Disney drawing. It is a true and marvellous snapshot that tells about a new economy that has flourished in a desert region of Mexico, thanks to an Enel project for creating shared value that combines biodiversity protection and the promotion of the local area and community.


The wind of change

Since July 2015, the 100 turbines of the Dominica 1 and Dominica 2 wind parks produced around 200 MW of electricity, equivalent to the consumption needs of 143,000 Mexican households. By applying the creating shared value model with local communities, the project has enabled us to produce new forms of economic development based on the benefits of renewable energies.


“Enel’s 200 MW wind farm in Dominica, Mexico, won the Infrastructure 360º Award in the “Climate and environment” category. The award, which is presented by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), each year recognizes the private projects which make the biggest contribution to creating a sustainable infrastructure system in Latin America”
Seeding Energies – Sustainability Report 2016

Historically, the wealth of this part of Mexico has been associated with minerals. Since the foundation of the municipality in 1563, the main economic activity of Charcas has been mining. Zinc, silver and copper are still extracted from mines located just 15 minutes from the city centre.

With the launch of the project for the construction of the Dominica 1 wind farm, in 2014, the local community has found new ways to create wealth through a circular and creating shared value approach. The Group’s Renewable Energy Division, already before starting the works for the installation of the blades, charted out a path of dialogue and listening with local institutions and communities to understand what initiatives to promote to generate benefits along the entire energy value chain.

Together with our most innovative technologies that allow us to transform wind into energy, we have also brought to Charcas our experience in promoting development by creating value for the company and for local communities, starting from an initiative to protect and enhance biodiversity in the territory.

It is a project that contributes to achieving five of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations’ Agenda 2030: #7 access to energy for all, #8 inclusive employment and economic growth, #13 combatting climate change and #15 protection of terrestrial flora. The first three of these objectives are among the four on which the Enel Group has made a formal commitment and that also inspire the Strategic Plan 2017-2019.


The cactus nursery

In order to ensure greater respect for the natural environment and landscape, during the construction of Dominica 1 and 2, Enel selected and uprooted 36,471 plants of 19 different species of wild flora that were moved inside the park, ensuring favourable conditions for their preservation, and built a nursery to grow cactus to meet the restocking targets agreed with authorities.

Thus was born the cactus nursery which has made it possible to recover and promote, in collaboration with Local NGOs, a nursery that had been previously set up in the region by a group of local women. In addition to preserving the plants present in the area later occupied by the Dominica wind park construction site, the nursery and the production team were supplied seeds to plant new cactus to reforest the area and for ornamental purposes.

On the one hand, Enel has ensured reforestation, while, on the other, the Charcas community has developed a new form of green and sustainable entrepreneurship in the area, making it possible to reproduce more than 10,000 endemic species.

The project will last five years up to 2019 and has seen the involvement of 48 women from neighbouring communities in training courses. Today, 20 women are working directly in the nursery, with the aim of broadening the initiative to the most vulnerable groups of the population and supporting gender equality.

This nursery is one of the strong points that allowed Dominica to win the 2016 Infrastructure 360º ​​Award in the Climate and Environment category presented by the Inter-American Development Bank for the series of initiatives taken in the wind park to preserve local habitats, consolidating social programmes to enhance the surrounding communities through training in agricultural methods, reforestation and animal feed in times of drought.


Communities that determine their own destiny

Today, the nursery is registered with the Mexican Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources among the facilities that can manage wildlife outside their natural habitat and provide for its reproduction and sale. This recognition allows the Charcas community to be 100 percent responsible and to determine its own future.