La Guajira: Colombia’s wind power center

Regulation & Policy, Renewables    Jan 22, 2020 12:23 PM

This is how, slowly but surely, wind energy projects in the department of La Guajira are advancing.

“In a few decades, this whole territory will change drastically, if the 65 wind farms that are scheduled to be developed during the next three years, are successfully built,” said Camilo González, president of the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz).

The academic spoke about the installation of more than 2,600 wind turbines that by 2031 would work in La Guajira, to produce 6,500MW for the National Interconnection System.

Authorities expect for the first nine projects to start operating by 2022, contributing with 1,139MW to the National System, Semena Sostenible said.

“When the entire project is done, La Guajira will have the capacity to produce 30GW, almost double of what the country consumes today,” González said.

In the second phase, the 19 companies interested in advancing these projects are expected to invest about US$6B, the source added.

“La Guajira is slowly transforming into Colombia’s first wind power center, and into one of the most important energy transition cores in the continent,” experts said.

In fact, if this type of projects continued to be developed, wind energy could generate 16GW in the country by 2050, that is, Colombia’s current consumption from hydroelectric and thermoelectric plants.

Companies are already advancing in the processes of installing wind measurement towers, conducting environmental impact studies, managing licenses and developing prior consultations processes.

“Each company works in one or two wind farms, to deliver energy to the transmission network that was already built by the Bogotá Energy Group, so that in 2022, they can sell energy to the national system, from an electrical route that will go from Uribia (La Guajra), to the Loma district, in El Paso (Cesar),” Gonzalez added.

The expert said that the strategy of companies is to divide large parks into different projects, to avoid having to ask for several permits from the National Environmental Licensing Agency (ANLA).

Bottom-line: La Guajira’s potential is undeniable, and unfortunately, so are its social problems.

Although we are sure that the industry knows what it is doing, it will be key for the government to work with, not against companies, throughout the prior consultation process.

Communities in the area are skeptical, and the government will need to assure them that the new projects will bring progress for them and future generations.

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