Colombia neglects geothermal in recent electricity plan

Colombia neglects geothermal in recent electricity plan Parque Natural Nacional Los Nevados, Colombia (source: flickr/ Triangulo del Café, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 14 Jan 2014

In its recent electricity plan, the country of Colombia clearly neglects opportunities provided by its geothermal resources, but it seems other renewables than hydro don´t seem to be of much interest in the country.

Reported today, the South American country of Colombia has just revealed its 2013-2017 electricity plan. Published by the country’s mining and energy planning unit UPME, it foresees adding up to 3,100 MW of power generation capacity and in excess of US$2bn of investment into work on electricity transmission.

The plan of UPME includes completing the second phase of mega hydro project of Ituango, additional two hydro power plants, two gas-fired and one coal plant. The work is expected sequentialy starting in 2021, so the report by UPME.

In two alternative plans studied, an increase of its renewable energy power generation and a diversification of the country’s energy mix were looked at. One of those alternative plans looked at adding 540 MW of capacity through wind, geothermal and cogeneration, the other also looked at up wind power development of up to 300 MW .

It is a shame that geothermal is not looked at further. In a research publication from 1999, a U.S. report looked at Colombia’s geothermal potential and estimated it at more than 2,000 MW of potential geothermal power generation capacity.

“While first geothermal reconnaissance studies were conducted in the late 1960s; 1500 km2 were evaluated in the Antioquia Department, additional studies were carried out in the 1970s and early 1980s. But it seems like there has been no official interest in developing Colombia’s geothermal resources.”

With municipal governments being mostly small scale with less than 10,000 inhabitants, small-scale geothermal development probably would be a way forward and have an impact locally, so the U.S. report in 1999.

There is though one project by Empresas Públicas de Medellín E.S.P.(EPM) and Dewhurst Group, at the Nevado Del Ruiz volcano, which we will follow up on.

Source: BN Americas, Bob Lawrence & Associates