The Minister of Mines and Energy (MinEnergia), Maria Fernanda Suarez, spoke about the challenges and opportunities that October’s energy auction represents for Colombia.
The Ministry confirmed that it awarded 1,398MW to four companies and nine projects located in the departments of La Guajira, Córdoba, Tolima and Valle del Cauca.
The government also awarded five other projects, aside from those that were awarded in the auction, that will contribute with 2,250MW to the system by 2022.
The results, Suarez told Semana, exceeded authorities’ expectations, which initially planned to increase the country’s capacity by 1,500MW.
The auction’s results will also translate into more than 5,000 job opportunities for locals in areas of influence, as they have committed investments of US$2B, to be developed from now until 2022.
The Minister, however, was clear to say that companies will face two main challenges: lack of logistics to guarantee the import, transfer and assembly of wind turbines to the areas where they will operate, in the case of wind energy generation projects, and social issues in areas of influence.
“La Guajira is one of the departments that has received the highest amount of royalties’ resources, but it is also one of the departments with less electricity coverage in its rural areas: 60% of the population located outside the urban centers lacks energy service. What a paradox,” she said.
Bottom-line: La Guajira, a region with one of the greatest potentials in renewable energies, also has one of the most difficult communities to deal with; decades of poor prior consultation processes, corruption and lack of State presence, led locals to distrust the industry.
If anything, this issue should be seen as an opportunity for the government to prove the sector how committed it is to the development of new projects, and support firms in the development of responsible for prior consultation processes.