edwin caicedo - environment editor@ElTiempoVerde
After 17 years without the development of a wind power project in Colombia, yesterday a new wind farm was inaugurated in the village of Cabo de la Vela, municipality of Uribia, department of La Guajira. The Guajira I wind farm, owned by Isagén, was presented by President Iván Duque and the Minister of Mines and Energy, Diego Mesa, in a bid to generate clean energy from non-conventional renewable sources. The wind farm has 10 wind turbines arranged in an area of 5.5 hectares, which have an installed capacity of 20 megawatts (MW), equivalent to the energy consumption of 33,295 Colombian families. For its development, the project had investments of 75 billion pesos and generated more than 50 jobs that benefited the inhabitants of the Taruasaru, Mushalerrain and Lanshalia communities of the Wayú indigenous people, who live in the area of influence of the park. "Colombia is the Latin American country that is making the renewable revolution. And the greatest demonstration is that these energies were only 0.2 percent of the energy matrix just three years ago and we can say that we will close this year with 16 percent and we will be at 20 percent of Colombia's energy matrix with non-conventional renewables in 2023," said President Duque. The project could be carried out thanks to fiscal and tax incentives and a policy promoted by the National Government aimed at encouraging the development of initiatives that help the country migrate towards a cleaner energy matrix, which includes production from non-conventional renewable sources such as wind and solar energy. The construction of Guajira I was completed in December 2021 and its commercial operation is expected to begin in the first quarter of this year, and in doing so will reduce 136 tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emitted into the atmosphere annually. For now, the park will enter the testing and energization stage. "Guajira I is one of the great milestones of the energy transition, as it is the first wind farm to be built in the country in 17 years and the first of 14 farms to be built in the next three years. La Guajira is the epicenter of the energy transition in Colombia, as the department has a world-class wind regime," said the Minister of Mines and Energy, Diego Mesa. Colombia has been increasing in the last 4 years its energy production capacity from non-conventional renewables, since, according to data from Minminas, at the end of 2021 it had an installed renewable energy capacity of 714.01 megawatts (MW), 25 times more than what it had in August 2018. According to projections, by 2050 Colombia should obtain 47 percent of its electrical energy from water sources and 20 percent from wind power plants, these two being the most relevant sources. To achieve this, the department of La Guajira will be essential, as it currently has licenses that would allow it to generate 1,366 megawatts of electricity from these sources. Diversifying the matrix Thanks to the country's large number of water sources, most of the electricity consumed by households comes from hydroelectric plants, which makes it essentially clean energy, as it does not generate greenhouse gas emissions. However, as explained to EL TIEMPO by Dr. Martha Cobo, dean of the Faculty of Engineering of the Universidad de La Sabana, considering climate change and the environmental impacts of hydroelectric plants, the country must diversify its energy matrix. "We do not have the capacity to grow with hydroelectric plants. It is a green energy, it is true; they have no carbon footprint, it is renewable, but it has other environmental problems that we have already seen in the case of Hidroituango. The impact of Hidroituango was so great that these power generators such as EPM are already aware that there will not be a project of this caliber in the country in the future," said the expert.