Outlook: Colombia's top 5 solar projects

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

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Colombia is prioritizing investments in non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE), and particularly solar projects, to reduce the country's dependence on hydroelectricity and fossil fuel-fired thermopower.

Last month, public services regulator Superservicios announced the creation of a monitoring system designed to ease bottlenecks afflicting solar, wind, geothermal and biomass projects.

Energy and gas regulator Creg is also close to revealing the mechanism that will be used for the country's first NCRE supply auction.

Latest figures published by energy planning unit UPME show that solar PV plants make up 255 of the 299 NCRE proposals submitted by developers in Colombia to date.

Here we look at Colombia's five largest solar projects, either in operation or under construction.

VALLEDUPAR – 100MW

CREDIT: Igac

Earmarked for Cesar department, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Celsia's Valledupar plant will be Colombia's largest solar facility.

The project is due online in the first half of 2019 with installed capacity of 100MW. It will cover 197ha of land in the municipality of La Mesa, near Valledupar, and will deliver 187GWh/y of electricity to more than 105,000 households.

In November, Medellín-based Celsia signed a protocol with local indigenous groups that guarantees education, environmental and social investments associated with the project.

YUMBO – 10MW

CREDIT: Celsia

Celsia is also the owner of the 10MW Yumbo plant in western Valle del Cauca department, which became Colombia's first utility-scale solar project to come online last September.

Built at a cost of US$11mn, the plant can generate 16GWh/y from its 35,000 photovoltaic modules.

According to UPME, Celsia's solar power project pipeline exceeds 200MW of capacity.

EL PASO – 86MW

CREDIT: Corpocesar

Cesar is also home to Enel's 86MW El Paso solar plant, where construction work in the municipality of Cuatro Vientos began in October.

The plant is due online in December following investment of US$70mn.

It will comprise more than 261,000 modules and will be connected to the El Paso substation.

MIDDLE MAGDALENA – 86MW

CREDIT: Anla

Local energy group EPM is drafting plans for an 86MW solar park in a bid to diversify its hydropower-dependent generation portfolio.

EPM declined to comment on the project when contacted by BNamericas.

Earmarked for the Middle Magdalena valley, the facility will require investments of US$75mn, according to local newspaper Portafolio, which cited EPM sources.

The project is said to be in the final study phase and construction is expected to begin in the first half of this year, pending regulatory approval.

RIO NEGRO – 2.1MW

CREDIT: Nutresa

The plant in Antioquia department became Colombia's largest rooftop photovoltaic system when it came online in December.

Built by Celsia, the facility meets 15% of the electricity needs of Compañía Nacional de Chocolates, a subsidiary of food group Nutresa.

It comprises more than 8,000 modules covering 14,000m2 of rooftop space.