Colombia could install 3GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2040, according to a draft report by the World Bank’s energy sector management assistance programme.
The roadmap, which is out for public consultation until 25 February, sets out the country’s potential, as well as the challenges, for installing wind turbines along its Caribbean coasts.
Wind studies suggest that the northern region, roughly from Cartagena to the La Guajira peninsula, offers around 50GW of offshore wind development potential. It includes areas that could support wind turbines with capacity factors of almost 70% — putting them among the highest in the world, especially east of the La Guajira peninsula.
The area’s total offshore potential is as much as 109GW, the study found, but not all of it is suitable for offshore wind farms due to environmental and technical reasons.
With Colombia reliant on hydroelectricity for more than two thirds of its power supplies, offshore wind offers an opportunity to diversify its energy supplies and avoid a growing reliance on coal and gas-fired capacity to meet rising demand for electricity, the report states.
Assuming that the government takes an active role in the development of offshore wind, the World Bank report suggests that 1GW of capacity could be installed by the end of this decade, rising to 3GW by 2040 and 9GW by the middle of the century.
To ensure this rate of installation, Colombia would have to invest significant sums in building dedicated port expansions, to increase staging and pre-assembly capacity.
The government may also need to consider subsidies or local sourcing rules, included in the tender process, to encourage manufacturers to set up production facilities for offshore projects in the country.
Among the key challenges, the report identified the lack of high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission capacity in the Caribbean coastal areas.
Without policies to support the development of the offshore wind sector, installation would be much slower, reaching just 200MW by 2030 and 1.5GW by 2050.
Colombia recently inaugurated its first wind farm in more than 15 years, only the second utility-scale project in the country. Both are onshore.