NREL and USAID are supporting energy security in Colombia by helping the Government of Colombia diversify its energy mix, stabilize energy costs, and electrify rural areas in support of peace and development, especially through the effective and efficient integration of variable renewable energy (VRE).

Transforming Colombia’s energy sector

The USAID-NREL Partnership in Colombia’s current focus is on the efficient integration of large volumes of renewable energy. Colombia currently depends on hydroelectricity for nearly 70% of its energy and dramatic shifts in rainfall, such as the El Niño-induced droughts in 2016, are leading to rationing energy during peak hours. As a result of changing economic, political, technologic, and environmental conditions, Colombia is  planning to bring 4 GW of non-hydroelectric renewable energy online by 2030. This will support Colombia’s ambitious climate goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030 and pursue net-zero emissions by 2050.

So far, over 1,374 MW of new wind and solar projects have been awarded in a 2019 renewable energy auction. Another renewable energy auction is being planned for 2021.

Capacity building for early-career professionals

NREL and USAID, in collaboration with other organizations, developed a comprehensive training program for 60 young professionals (70% women) to prepare future decision makers in Colombia for the transitioning energy economy. The training program consisted of seven modules covering a wide variety of topics related to the efficient integration of VRE, including future trends for solar and wind integration, policy and planning, economics, distribution sector planning, resilience, electrification, and leadership and change management. Due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, the team quickly redesigned the program to be delivered online and successfully recorded 117 presentations (of which NREL subject matter experts developed 38) and hosted 11 virtual collaboration sessions with young professionals.

Past projects

 In collaboration with USAID, NREL is providing stakeholders across Colombia technical assistance and expertise. Past examples include:

  • Capacity building with the Colombian Association of Electric Power Generators (ALCOGEN) and the Colombian Association of Distribution Utilities (ASOCODIS) on topics such as variable renewable energy integration, grid modernization, smart metering, and utility business models.
  • Supported the Colombian energy regulator (CREG) in the development of new regulations to allow and guide distributed energy investments and sale of excess to the grid by all customer classes. The new regulation can be found here.
  • Supported Colombia’s independent grid operator (XM) develop grid codes for variable renewable energy.
  • Provided technical support on guide for interconnection of small self-generation solar.
  • Collaborating with National Planning Department to understand challenges and opportunities for electrification work in Colombia’s Peace Zones.

Power plant map

The map below shows the location, type and size of power plants operating in Colombia.


Power plants in Colombia

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