Jorge Sáenz V./@jsaenz_v.
The country must introduce in the regulatory aspects that allow the development of the electricity sector, both in renewable alternative sources and in technology, says Minister of Mines and Energy, María Fernanda Suárez.
Photovoltaic cells in a solar energy park.
The laws on public utilities and electricity (142 and 143 of 1994) are 25 years old in 2019 and the government is preparing an energy transformation that will be included in the National Development Plan (PND), which seeks to update the sector with new technologies "What has made us successful over the past 25 years is not what will make us successful over the next 25 years and we will be preparing this energy transformation agenda in this government," he said. Minister of Mines and Energy, María Fernanda Suárez.
Read also: the El Niño phenomenon would not cause blackouts or rate hikes
"When you feel excellent, your path to mediocrity has already begun," says the minister, recalling a quote from the writer Jim Collins. "This is not what we can allow to happen in the electricity sector," said the official to recall that, according to the World Economic Council, Colombia has the sixth cleanest energy matrix in the world because it produces 70% of the its generation with hydraulics but at the same time is one of the twenty countries most vulnerable to climate change.
"We must protect ourselves from that vulnerability, because we are vulnerable because when we produce 70% with hydroelectric plants, it puts us at the forefront in a paradox: because we are very clean, we are very exposed," says the official.
In the national development plan there is an important agenda to integrate these issues into the regulatory framework and with the CREG a program is set for 2019 that will include smart metering, intra-day market and participation in demand. "The innovation in the electricity sector is very high and this is to the benefit of the user," says the minister.
The country must introduce in the regulatory aspects that allow the development of alternative sources and renewable technologies in the electricity sector. The revolution expected by the government in the electricity sector will begin in the first quarter of 2019, as the official stressed that "we will start an energy mission, because that mission will analyze the future and help us to generate that transition for an energy transformation".
Suarez acknowledged that the country has in laws 142 and 143 "a very important basis and we must stop on them and make sure they have the necessary updating for the new technology that is now a reality: blockchain, big data and artificial intelligence. We have a structure that could never predict it. "Colombia must make this transition during these four years.
The minister has just attended the congress of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) which was held in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). There he realized that Colombia has a great commercial opportunity with the development of alternative energies such as solar and wind. "The most exciting of IRENA was to see the immense opportunity that Colombia has on the global map on the topic of alternative renewable energy and the possibilities that there are in generating employment because the alternatives (energy) produce more jobs of traditional ones and presents the opportunity to make more gender equity and greater inclusion to the rhythm that alternative energies enter, "he explained.
Sun and water
Colombia's potential for solar and wind energy increases interest among global investors. According to the studies of the Mining and Energy Planning Unit (UPME), the solar potential of La Guajira is about 42,000 megawatts (MW), while wind energy is close to 15,000 MW. If we add the solar and wind potential of La Guajira, it would be 57,000 MW, slightly higher than the country's hydroelectric potential: 56,000 MW.
"The great opportunity is to see that when there is a phenomenon of El Niño, there is greater luminosity in La Guajira and this allows these alternative sources to integrate and diversify our system," said Minister Suarez . However, he recognizes that the country is lagging behind in introducing these energies to the rest of the world.
Given this scenario, this government has proposed to incorporate at least 1,500 megawatts of alternative generation with solar and wind energy. This will be sought with an energy transition program that begins with subsequent auctions; the first will be on February 26th of this year. There is enough interest in this first auction for projects that have the opportunity to enter the generation in 2021. In the second half of this year a second auction is planned for initiatives that will go into generation in 2022. "We see the Interest of both producers present in the Colombian market as new companies from the United States, Spain, Norway and Chile, "the official said.
On February 28, the boom will be held, which seeks the participation of those projects that have the capacity to generate from 1 December 2022, looking in some way that there is sufficient energy available from that year, but There are incentives for projects that are scheduled for a year. Hydroelectric, thermal and alternative sources will participate in this expansion boom and a reliability burden will be granted. In the two offers, investments from US $ 1,300 to US $ 1,800 million are estimated.
Read also: Call to save water and energy
The minister of mines and energy stressed that the electricity sector is ready to meet the energy demand of the Colombians during the El Niño phenomenon. However, he warned that "even if we are prepared, saving energy and water is the best way for Colombians to contribute to climate change and prevent any situation that may arise".