Wind farms to provide peak supply in Colombia

Wind and solar projects have been contracted to provide firm energy to the Colombian grid during peak hours for the first time, the country's energy minister said.

Colombia's sole wind farm, the 19.5MW Jepírachi project, will soon be joined by new facilities in La Guajira (pic: Jorge Mahecha/Wikimedia Commons)
Colombia's sole wind farm, the 19.5MW Jepírachi project, will soon be joined by new facilities in La Guajira (pic: Jorge Mahecha/Wikimedia Commons)

Operators of six new wind farms, with a combined capacity of just under 1.2GW, secured contracts to supply reliable energy at an auction.

They were among owners of 69 energy projects — mostly hydroelectric and thermal power plants — to secure agreements to supply 250.55GWh of guaranteed power per day.

Grid operator XM Compañía Expertos en Mercados awarded contracts to 4.01GW of new energy projects, with wind’s 1.16GW allocation accounting for 29% of this total.

The projects’ operators will receive a premium price of US$15.10/MWh for power delivered to the grid during peak hours on top of the market price of electricity.

Owners of new-build wind sites will receive this price for 20 years from 1 December 2022, while the duration of other contracts range from one to 20 years.

It marks the first time renewable energy projects will provide back-up supply in Colombia, energy minister Maria Fernanda Suarez said.

All six wind projects will be built in the remote, windy department of La Guajira in the north of the country.

Enel Green Power won contracts for three projects for new wind farms. Its Chemesky project will provide 202MWh/day, while its  Tumawind and Windpeshi won contracts for 284MWh/day, and 779MWh/day, respectively.

Special purpose vehicles owned by Colombian renewables developer Renovatio also won deals to supply power from two wind farms.

It will provide 152MWh/day from its up-to 250MW Parque Alpha site — for which it received a permit last year — and 201MWh/day from its Parque Beta site.

Meanwhile, Colombian company Jemeiwaa was contracted to provide 888MWh/day from its 180MW Casa Eléctrica site.

Colombia currently sources about 70% of its energy from hydro, and this leaves the country "vulnerable to climate variability’, the energy ministry stated.

This drives a need for guaranteed supply to meet the maximum daily demand of 226.84GWh by 2022/23, projected by the planning unit of the country’s mining and energy planning unit (UPME).

Botched tender

The guaranteed supply auction follows Colombia’s first clean energy tender, in which no power deals were awarded because the results would have violated antitrust laws.

UPME will now re-run the auction in the second quarter of 2019, but is yet to specify a new date.

Brian Gaylord, senior analyst for Latin America at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, told Windpower Monthly it was "not possible to draw conclusions" about the upcoming clean energy tender from the results of the guaranteed supply auction.

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