A new range of opportunities for Basque companies in the energy sector emerges in Colombia

Submitted by Ander González on 14 May 2019

The Basque Energy Cluster held an exploratory mission on the week from 4 to 8 March following the new Colombian Government's commitment to an energy mix that includes more renewable sources and the revamp of an obsolete electric network in some areas of the country. The goal of the mission was to get to know the policies of the new government and the direction taken by the companies of a greater relevance in the Andean country. The mission’s timing couldn’t have been better (days after a bid that resulted in 1.3 GW of new renewable facilities). Thanks to the meetings that were held, a future with great opportunities for Basque companies of the energy sector was identified.

Over the past years, Colombia has been one of the great promises of the energy sector. An old electric network with enviable renewable sources that has just opened to the external market thanks to the end of the armed violence in the country and the peace treaty. However, there isn’t a clear commitment to invest in new energy capacities and technologies within a Government that is focused on the peace process. This commitment has become a reality in the past weeks, with the decision of the new Government to launch an energy auction that the country had long been awaiting. Over 250 GWh of power were auctioned at the end of February, with an unprecedented predominance of renewable energy sources, that will account for approximately 6% of the total generated power with the current projects in the future matrix (2023). The rest of the auctioned energy (most of them under construction processes) has been awarded to hydroelectric power and thermal plant projects, which are still the majority in Colombia.

In any case, most of the entities have stated during this mission that it will not stop there. The goal is to achieve 1.5 GW of renewable power by 2030 (1.3 GW have been granted through this auction), although everything points to this figure being higher. Before the end of the year, the Government has announced a new auction, and it seems that renewables will gain an even greater relevance.

During the mission, the Basque Energy Cluster met with Government institutions (The Ministry of Mining and EnergyUPME and IPSE), trade unions and associations (Colombian Chamber of EnergySERCOLOMBIAANDESCO and ANDI) and corporations (four medium companies of the energy sector that joined us at the meeting with the Colombian Chamber of Energy and the utility Enel-Codensa, the largest distributor in the country).

It is important to highlight that all the companies that met with the Basque Energy Cluster agreed that they favoured a future energy mix with more focus on renewable energy, based on the experience of European companies, more specifically that of Basque companies, in the development of an industry and suppliers of systems, equipment and services related to the renewal of the electric network and the generation of unconventional energy. The problems that have risen in the recent past in Colombia, such as the situation with Electricaribe and the Ituango hydroelectric plant, are examples for the Government of their need to commit to the investment in wind and solar power and in the improvement of the electric network (applicable to all the utilities in the country).

This scenario, including the interest of all the aforementioned entities and companies in maintaining a constant and fluid line with the Basque Energy Cluster and its companies, makes Colombia look like an interesting country in the short-to-medium-term in which to gain positions and develop different collaboration paths.

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