Nuclear plants in Colombia?

Regulation & Policy    Sep 20, 2021 5:01 PM

Colombian authorities think that the country could start using nuclear sources within the generation matrix in the long term.

This analysis was reported in the most recent update of the National Energy Plan (PEN), corresponding to the period 2020-2030, El Tiempo reported.

PEN’s Cristian Jaramillo explained that this document proposes several pillars to guide energy policy, these being economic development, adaptation to climate change and leveraging innovation, but always reliably supplying energy demand.

“This PEN builds possible paths that we consider balanced and sustainable in economic, social and environmental terms,” the preface of the plan said.

The document proposes the development of geothermal energy and the commissioning of small nuclear power plants.

“It assumes the entry of small nuclear power plants, the installation of carbon capture in thermal plants and the exit of some generation plants due to technological obsolescence and high emission factors,” the document said.

The PEN proposes the entry of nuclear plants that would contribute 1,200MW of capacity to the system starting in 2042 and a progressive reduction of thermal plants that reach the end of their useful life.

“SMRs (small modular reactors) have lower capacities than traditional nuclear power plants and are modular, so they have lower investment costs and are flexible in their operation,” the PEN said.

ACIEM’s Ismael Arenas acknowledged that this is just one alternative, but the important thing is not to go down this path, since many countries around the world have ruled out this possibility.

“Our recommendation is not to include these options in the analysis,” Arenas said.

Arenas said that the reasons for building a nuclear plant are not clear in the PEN. He said that this alternative could represent high costs and social and environmental risks.

In addition, the expert said that this would not be a viable and useful option, even more so when Colombia has a large and diverse energy matrix.

Bottom-Line: Colombia has not been able to solve the Hidroituango crisis, but at the same time authorities are beginning to consider the option of nuclear plants.

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