Delays in the development of key transmission lines in northern Colombia could put back the country’s renewables sector, the head of the country’s energy planning authority has warned.
“If we had started earlier, we would have time and we would not be facing such tight deadlines,” said Christian Jaramillo, director general of Colombia’s Energy Mining Planning Unit (UPME), during an online conference organised by grid operator XM.
Developers including AES Corp, Enel, and Isagen are planning to install wind turbines with more than 1.7GW of capacity in Colombia by the end of 2022, having won long-term power purchases agreements in the country’s first two renewable energy tenders.
The Colectora project, being developed by Grupo Energético Bogotá, is designed to carry energy from seven wind farms with 1,050MW of capacity in the remote La Guajira department to the national grid.
Consisting of 470km of power lines plus substations, the US$174 million project was due to be commissioned by December 2023.
But consultations with more than 200 indigenous communities living along the route of the line have been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions, and the line is now not expected to be completed until late 2024.
The official blamed the design of the transmission system for the system’s problems.
"As the connection requests to the system were relatively few, there was no need to create an incentive so that nobody would take them and then not use that assigned connection capacity," said Jaramillo.
So far, authorities have approved grid connections for 8.9GW of solar projects and 2.5GW of wind projects while requests for another 11GW of renewables projects are pending.
Authorities are already studying plans for a second line with capacity to carry another 2GW of capacity from Guajira to the rest of the country.