Carbon fund behind Colombia project -- World Bank 20 MW flagship

Colombian power company Empresas Públicas de Medellin (EPM) is issuing contracts for a 20 MW wind project in the north eastern tip of the country. The project is the wind flagship of the World Bank's Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF) -- a carbon offset funding mechanism seeking to boost renewable power development. Of the 12 projects in the PCF, only three are wind -- and all are in Latin America: Columbia's 20 MW Jepirachi project and the smaller Chorotega and Vara Blanca projects in Costa Rica (box).

The World Bank created the PCF in 1999 and it now has five member governments (Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands), the Japanese government's Japan Bank for International Co-operation and17 private sector companies who together have pooled $145 million to finance emission reductions from projects in 31 countries. The PCF "attempts to anticipate or emulate the implementation of Clean Development Mechanisms criteria under the Kyoto protocol," explains the bank's Charles Feinstein. Participants receive certified emissions reductions from projects that could eventually be registered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Supplier choice

In Colombia, EPM was accepting bids for the manufacture, testing and installation supervision of wind turbines until September 24. The winning company will also have to train EPM staff and supervise operations for 12 months from the estimated August 2003 start-up. EPM will maintain the winning technology.

The PCF's project design document was drawn up on the basis of using 15 Nordex N60 1.3 MW turbines, or equivalent technology. German development agency GTZ carried out wind studies at the site, which lies between Cabo de la Vela and Puerto Bolivar in the Guarija peninsula, and found that speeds averaged over 8 m/s.

The turbine supplier will be required to advise EPM on the installation of future wind plant in the area, which has a wind potential of 5 GW, according to the PCF. Despite Colombia's economic and social instability, the probability of more wind projects is not out of the question. The El Niño weather phenomenon cyclically hits the country's installed hydro capacity (55-75% of the total) and diversification of the generation base would relieve this problem. With long term price rises forecast for Colombia's thermal power alternatives -- natural gas and coal -- wind would be in a competitive position.