Interviews – Columbia?s Rising Renewable Vitality Market: Interview with Columbian Minister of Mines and Vitality Diego Mesa

In August 2018 the nation had solely two initiatives, one wind and one photo voltaic, with an put in capability of 28.2 MW. We at present have 20 photo voltaic farms, 2 wind farms, 10 large-scale self-generation initiatives and greater than 2,500 small-scale self-generation photovoltaic photo voltaic initiatives. Nonetheless, the closing of President Duque’s authorities will see greater than 1,500 MW of initiatives put in and near 900 MW extra beneath building to return into operation on the finish of 2022, being one of many quickest expansions of renewables on this planet.

REM talked to Columbian Minister of Mines and Vitality Diego Mesa to search out out extra.

Are you able to please give me a fundamental background about Colombia’s renewable vitality portfolio and its deliberate programme of unpolluted vitality growth

I’ll begin by saying that the primary public coverage for the sector has been vitality transition, and clearly vitality has totally different elements. Certainly one of them has been the incorporation of viable renewable vitality at a large scale in Colombia. And right here, I’ve to start out by saying that, you already know, after we got here into the Administration again in 2018, we began at a really low base. At that cut-off date Colombia’s share of viable renewable vitality in our energy matrix was about 0.2 p.c so mainly nothing.

We solely had a complete of about 28 megawatts (MW) of put in capability. We had pilot initiatives, wind initiatives within the north a part of the nation and small photo voltaic farms and that was it, there was nothing else. Regardless of having a legislation that was handed in 2014, with incentives for viable renewable vitality and most essential of all with important assets, I imply, wind and photo voltaic radiation in Colombia is world class, manner above the world common. So it was a bit intriguing that we did not have a whole lot of growth.

The primary job was to enhance the coverage framework for viable renewable vitality. And the way in which we did, this was we modified that legislation from 2014 in our nationwide growth plan. We mainly levelled the taking part in area to have the ability to entice overseas traders in addition to the incumbents that have been already within the electrical energy Market in Colombia.

We complemented a few of this tax incentives with an public sale programme after which we have additionally included one thing like an RPO – a Renewable Buy Obligation for utilities to have the ability to purchase a minimum of ten p.c of electrical energy that they provide to finish customers coming from viable renewable vitality.

I’ve to say, as effectively, that the background was that regardless that the shared viable renewable vitality or non-conventional renewables, as we name it in Colombia, was very low, however Colombia’s energy matrix is dependent upon, to a big extent, one other renewable supply, which is massive hydro. So, about 70 p.c of our energy matrix comes from massive hydro, so began with a really clear matrix anyway.

So we carried out the coverage modifications, we ran the auctions – we’ve run three to date – and I can say that in 4 years we have been in a position to remodel this sector in Colombia. So, out of the three auctions we’ve carried out to date, we’ve been in a position to award greater than twenty eight hundred 2888 MW in comparison with the 28 MW that we had again in 2018, so multiply that by 100 in the middle of simply 4 years.

We will find yourself in 2022 with about 12 p.c of the share, within the energy matrix. So from 0.2 p.c to 12 p.c and we’ve a major pipeline for the following three to 5 years. So, round 5,000 MW along with what is going on to be put in over the following six or seven months.

And I am going to simply complement that first query by saying, that one of many targets that we had with all these modifications was to have the ability to entice new firms to Colombia, and that is been very profitable. So we’re in a position to have now firms like EDF from France, EDPR, ENGIE from Portugal, ENGIE from France as effectively, and Inexperienced Yellow. After we take a look at Spanish firms, you will have Grenergy, we’ve Solarpack, we’ve Elawan, we’ve Acciona. We even have numerous UK firms, we’ve Canadian and American firms, so now it’s a really aggressive area in viable renewable vitality and rising. In order that’s form of like a fast excessive degree abstract of what we’ve carried out over the past 4 years.

What are the primary renewable vitality applied sciences that Colombia has put in so far and which of them are you specializing in particularly as you develop clear vitality within the nation?

Certain. So I feel one of many greatest expansions has been in photo voltaic PV. Photo voltaic PV has grown exponentially between 2018 and 2022, and it is grown at totally different scales. So we’ve photo voltaic farms just like the one we inaugurated a few month in the past with the President, which is near 200 MW in Cesar [this is the El Paso solar plant in Cesar, Northern Columbia, brought online by Enel Green Power in 2019] to a whole lot of 10 MW, 20 MW photo voltaic Farms. We even have leveraged all this to get [power] to off-grid cities in rural communities, to supply electrical energy, to not the grid however to households, mini grids in lots of areas.

That will expertise No 1. No 2 is clearly onshore wind. We have now the primary industrial venture introduced into operation in January this yr in La Guajira. There is a second one which’s ending building as we converse and can be able to be inaugurated in about three to 4 weeks, additionally in La Guajira, and there are a minimum of three different initiatives within the building part proper now, additionally in La Guajira, that in whole sum up near about 800 MW in wind and the pipeline may be very massive for the following 6 to 18 months in onshore wind.

We have additionally acquired into geothermal. We have now the 2 first pilots in operation for geothermal renewable vitality. We have additionally labored on biomass, we’ve the primary forest biomass venture in operation and we’ve two extra initiatives within the pipeline.

And, interested by new applied sciences for the long run, we’re very targeted on low and nil emission hydrogen. We’re able to put the primary two inexperienced hydrogen electrolysers in operation in Columbia and we’re offshore wind. Our offshore wind useful resource may be very very excessive, with wind speeds of 13 metres per second in a few of the areas in Colombia with a capability issue of as much as 70 p.c. So like a big hydro venture. So we’re specializing in that for the long run, over the midterm and long-term, and to conclude right here, one thing that I haven’t talked about is that we’re additionally working in a whole lot of storage. So final yr we held the primary public sale in Latin America for large-scale storage with batteries and the plan is to have a whole lot of further storage to this within the subsequent coming years.

Are there specific areas of the nation, over different areas, which might be appropriate for deployment of renewables and are there areas that that favour specific applied sciences?

Certain. So I feel for onshore wind, undoubtedly the perfect space within the nation is the northern half, near the Caribbean coast, particularly La Guajira, however even coming right down to the opposite Departments like Magdalena, Atlantico, Bolivar, they’re the place you discover the perfect wind. Onshore, we’re speaking about wind velocity on common of about 9 metres per second, which is kind of good by world requirements.

I feel for photo voltaic PV, it is just about unfold all through the nation and is clearly important within the northern half, and within the plains as effectively. We have seen a whole lot of growth in some elements of the Southwest so I feel photo voltaic PV it is in all places, even in the primary cities you see a whole lot of growth in small scale initiatives and that is been widespread.

For offshore wind, which is a part of the long run, undoubtedly once more however in shallow waters lower than 70 metres of depth within the Caribbean coast. That is the place we’re focusing on this venture. With offshore wind, it isn’t pretty much as good within the Pacific Coastal space. We have been in a position to conduct some measurements and located that space is just not as aggressive because the Caribbean coast.

You talked about many firms the Colombian authorities is already working with to develop renewable vitality throughout the nation, however I used to be questioning if you wish to say any extra concerning the authorities’s most important companions.

Along with a whole lot of the vitality or electrical energy firms that I discussed earlier than, one other factor that we’re seeing is a whole lot of the oil, fuel and mining firms are additionally getting very energetic in producing electrical energy with viable renewable sources. So we might additionally say that Colombia’s oil and fuel and mining merchandise at the moment are being produced with clear vitality.

Renewables are often pretty intermittent. Are you able to say a bit extra about the way you’re doing with increasing vitality storage to mitigate that drawback?

Yeah, so we’re very privileged by the truth that we’ve, as our base load, largely massive hydro. So, over time, viable renewable vitality will get extra traction and extra assured, used as a pure storage system, the massive hydro initiatives. I mentioned as effectively that we’ve included the primary public sale for large-scale storage with batteries. On this case although, it wasn’t to go with the intermittency of variable renewable vitality nevertheless it was truly an public sale for providers within the regional grid in one of many departments in Colombia.

As we proceed to develop, we don’t see any points with intermittency and that is one thing we mentioned with the system operator in Colombia, we might simply attain as much as 25 30 p.c of the full share of the ability matrix and nonetheless be okay by way of the grid and the sturdiness of the grid.

Has the latest world enhance in vitality costs affected deployment of renewables in Columbia and in that case how?

So with all these troublesome points we’ve had over the past couple of years, and extra acute with not solely covid however what occurred in Ukraine, we have seen some delays in a few of the shipments, some initiatives acquired three or 4 months delay, there was a scarcity of photo voltaic panels for some time final yr and that created a few of the delays nevertheless it’s one thing that the businesses are getting used to. I additionally know some points in a few of the wind initiatives, by which the suppliers of generators didn’t hedge that correctly, a few of the enter supplies, however no important affect. There was some delays, it was anticipated, however all of the initiatives proceed to be on the identical course.

Given Colombia’s geographical location, do you will have any issues with warmth induced degradation affecting the effectivity of photo voltaic PV? If that’s the case how are you coping with this?

That is not have been a difficulty. It’s one thing to maintain on the radar however to date, no issues. It could be a part of the reason is that we’ve very new merchandise which might be being put into operation. So no noise or warmth degradation that we’re conscious of.

As regards to transport, how many individuals are changing to electrical autos in Colombia and the way it’s being supported within the nation by growth of charging amenities?

Two excellent questions. Colombia has additionally designed an excellent coverage framework for electrical mobility and, as of 2019, we turned the primary nation in EV gross sales in Latin America. In absolute phrases, we have been in a position to surpass Chile and Dominican Republic. We had double-digit progress in 2020, double-digit progress in 2021 and this yr is rising on the identical fee. In some circumstances, we even have three-digit optimistic progress. Our objective for this four-year time period was to have 6600 electrical autos solely with out making an allowance for hybrids. We surpassed that objective by about 20 p.c. We’re over 8,100 electrical autos registered already within the nation and a good portion of that is coming from mass transportation. We have now the second largest electrical bus fleet on this planet, after China clearly, there’s a major hole between us and China, and it is one thing that is going fairly effectively. The tax incentives and industrial reductions are working fairly effectively and we anticipate this to be a seamless supply of great financial growth.

We have additionally labored on charging stations. That is additionally rising as we converse. We now have corridors between the primary cities in Colombia by which you should utilize your electrical automobile. For instance, between Bogota and Medellin, Bogota and Cali, Bogota and different intermediate cities and that is one thing that is been increasing. We determined to standardise chargers as effectively and that’s proved to be a great resolution now, and that’s one other market that’s rising considerably.

Given that enormous areas of Columbia are both forested or farmed, how intensive is Colombia’s anaerobic digestion and bioenergy sector?

Good query. We have now in bioenergy a major manufacturing of ethanol and biodiesel. We have now mandated mix. So 10 p.c of gasoline must be blended with ethanol, largely produced in Columbia from sugarcane, not from corn, as within the US, and the identical for diesel. 10 p.c of the diesel must be come from bio sources, particularly from palm oil, and we’re engaged on having different varieties of biodiesel, a venture engaged on bio jet gas as effectively and initiatives to develop that. So we’ve good days and there is a whole lot of specialists, particularly in biodiesel, however we’ve integrated it in particularly the transportation sector.

What are the nation’s most important clear vitality targets, going ahead?

Going ahead, the long run is round each offshore wind and on hydrogen. We have now important potential with photo voltaic PV and onshore wind, it already has its personal dynamic proper now and it may proceed to develop at a really excessive fee. I feel we have to focus rather a lot on getting initiatives developed at a industrial scale for low and nil emission hydrogen past the pilot that we put into operation and to get the primary offshore wind industrial venture in place. We’re launching the aggressive tender for the primary pilots on offshore wind, working with the trade however I feel these ought to be the targets of Columbia to be the primary nation in Latin America to develop industrial scale, offshore wind and industrial scale low and nil emission hydrogen.

That was my final query, so if there’s something I’ve missed then go forward or something you need to add?

No I feel I feel we have lined just about every part on vitality transition. Colombia’s now very effectively positioned and effectively regarded by worldwide traders and the neighborhood on what we have carried out to develop renewable, vitality sources. We’ve seen the vitality transition degree championed by the UN, the World financial Discussion board has recognised us as probably the most superior vitality transition in Latin American in 202, identical with the World Financial Council.

So we have seen the outcomes of those insurance policies, as not solely an growth of put in capability in onshore wind and photo voltaic, but additionally in electrical mobility and storage. With the roadmap for hydrogen and offshore wind attracting a whole lot of curiosity, I feel we’ve just about lined it. One ultimate level possibly, we have leveraged viable renewable vitality additionally to shut vitality gaps. So we have been in a position to deliver electrical energy, for the primary time, to households in rural areas, upgrading 30,000 households with photo voltaic PV and batteries. General, whenever you embrace interconnections and different sources, we’re attending to about 80,000 now and the objective is to get to 100,000 by 2027.

For added data:

El Paso Photo voltaic – Enel Inexperienced Energy