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    Will there be renewables for all in the near future?

    June 6, 2023 - CE Noticias Financieras


      With the announcement of the indefinite suspension of the construction of the Windpeshi wind farm in La Guajira, one of the paradoxes of the energy transition arises: the viability of renewable energy projects.

      Renewable energies are increasingly competitive, do not emit greenhouse gases, reduce energy dependence, are inexhaustible sources and generate employment opportunities and socioeconomic development in the regions where they operate. Furthermore, they are an imminent necessity for our energy sovereignty because they contribute to meet the growing consumption needs of Colombians.

      But the outlook does not seem encouraging. The most recent blockades to projects such as the Windpeshi wind farm, in La Guajira, prevent progress at sustainable construction rates and exhaust the corporate instances to solve conflicts with the communities in the area where these works are being developed.

      This, with the aggravating factor of slowing down the energy transition and restricting the solution to the country's basic problem, which is the imminent need to incorporate new supply, because Colombians' electricity consumption has been growing three times more than the increase of the generating park and an El Niño phenomenon is approaching, whose uncertainties make it necessary to have enough slack to face any unexpected situation, such as those that occurred in 2015 and which show that "Murphy's laws" inexorably happen.

      A situation such as Windpeshi's is worrying, and rightly so, it triggers alerts. It is essential to work articulately to strengthen the mechanisms of interaction or good practices of social dialogue, with clear duties and rights for all parties.

      The articulation between the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Interior, the communities and the companies is vital to advance in the environmental procedures, the construction and operation of the same; and to achieve practical strategies for conflict resolution that avoid the proliferation of blockades to the projects. Otherwise, will there be renewables for all in the near future?

      The case of Windpeshi seems, to distracted eyes, unrepresentative when compared to the nearly 80 projects of Non-Conventional Renewable Sources (FNCER) totaling 3,330 MW scheduled to be connected and come into operation between 2023 and 2024.

      However, this wind farm in La Guajira promised 205 MW, 6% of the total clean energy scheduled to come online in the next two years. Sadder still, US$380,000 of investment and regional development opportunities for the neighboring communities were at risk, due to a social conflict that brought this project to the limit of unfeasibility despite the accompaniment and support of the Government.

      This bell that leaves great lessons for everyone, from the urgency of addressing the needs of a region historically abandoned by the state and that cannot be replaced by business projects, without ignoring that these can contribute their bit and be part of the solution, to the strengthening of dialogue mechanisms, articulated by the national government and where all the actors involved have a place, those who oppose, but also the communities that want the development of the projects, who have a voice and also deserve to be heard.

      It is also an opportunity to reflect internally on good practices in the companies and on the need to promote a greater understanding in the country of FNCER technologies, their benefits and impacts, aimed at all stakeholders (authorities and communities), to facilitate decision making and acceptance of these projects.

      And well, Windpeshi is not an isolated case. The most recent study by SER Colombia shows that 65% of the 3,300 megawatts are in the process of being processed, several of them with significant delays. Of this energy, scheduled to enter 80 projects between 2023 and 2024, only 28 are advancing without problems.

      From SER Colombia, the Association of Renewable Energy Colombia, of course, we are at the disposal of the competent authorities to lead and support the development of these projects, so that they become a reality working in coordination with the State, communities, companies and investors.


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