Colombia

Colombia

Colombia opens new wind farm amid indigenous protests

President cuts ribbon at country’s first new wind farm in a decade as army is called in to protect projects under construction

The Colombian army has deployed around 2,400 soldiers to defend under-development wind farms (pic credit: National Amy of Colombia/Twitter
The Colombian army has deployed around 2,400 soldiers to defend under-development wind farms (pic credit: National Amy of Colombia/Twitter

Colombian president Ivan Duque inaugurated the country’s first wind farm in a generation this month amid protests from some indigenous communities who oppose large-scale wind power development.

Developed by Isagen, the 20MW Guajira I Guajira I (20MW) OnshoreUribia, La Guajira, Colombia, Central & South America Click to see full details wind farm is the first to be built in the country since Empresas Públicas de Medellín completed the 19.5MW Jepírachi Jepírachi (19.5MW) OnshoreLa Guajira, La Guajira, Colombia, Central & South America Click to see full details project in 2004. Isagen installed the last of ten Vestas V100 2MW turbines at the site late last year.

Guajira I is the first of ten new wind farms set to be built in the north-eastern department of La Guajira over the next couple of years, adding around 1.7GW of wind capacity to the national grid.

Other wind developers in the region include EDP Renewables, which has begun construction of nearly 500MW of capacity at the 212MW Alpha Alpha (212MW) OnshoreMaicao, La Guajira, Colombia, Central & South America Click to see full details and 280MW Beta Beta (280MW) OnshoreMaicao, La Guajira, Colombia, Central & South America Click to see full details wind farms, and AES Corp, which is developing close to 650MW of capacity at five projects.

Local protest

However, some of the indigenous communities in La Guajira, a blustery peninsula jutting out into the Caribbean Sea, are protesting against the development of commercial-scale wind farms.

Members of the Wayú community have blockaded roads in the region, alleging that they were not properly consulted about the development of Guajira I. In a letter, the group called on President Duque to boycott the ceremony.

In a statement, Isagen said that it had carried out consultations with three indigenous communities, but not the Warepet group, which disputes territory with the Lanshalia. It added that it had worked with the Office of Indigenous Affairs to protect a Warapet cemetery located 800m from the new wind farm.

“This kind of protest affects the development of a project that is very important for the region and the country,” the developer stated.

To protect the wind farms in development, the Colombian army has deployed around 2,400 soldiers to the Upper Guajira area. An army spokesperson told Windpower Monthly that there had been no confrontations between troops and the protesters.

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