Renewable energy in Colombia

Renewable energy in Colombia

Renewable energy in Colombia refers to infrastructure for renewable energy in Colombia. The country has 28.1 Megawatt installed capacity of renewable energy (excluding large hydropower), consisting mainly of wind power. The country has significant small hydro, wind, and solar resources that remain largely unexploited. According to a study by the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program ( [| ESMAP] ), exploitation of the country’s significant wind potential alone could cover more than the country’s current total energy needs. ESMAP 2007]

Investment costs

Investment costs for renewable energy technologies in Colombia were estimated in 2005 as follows:

"Source": ESMAP 2007


With 70 percent of the country’s power generation, hydropower is a very important national energy source. The total large hydropower potential for Colombia is estimated at 93GW, with an additional 25GW of small hydropower (<20MW). However, the potential for large hydropower faces difficulties, as the best sites have already been developed, also due to the escalating environmental and social costs associated with large dams, and the likely impacts of climate change and climate variability on the hydrological regime of the country (drastic increases in surface temperature in the Andes, changes in precipitation patterns, and increases in the intensity and frequency of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) signals driving prolonged periods of drought). ESMAP 2007]

The large hydropower plants to be built in Colombia up to 2010 are listed belowESMAP 2007] :

* Calderas: 26MW
* Transvase Guarinó
* Amoyá river: 80MW
* Manso river: 27 MW
* Porce III Dam: 660MW
* Quimbo Dam: 400 MW


The wind regime in Colombia is among the best in South America. Offshore regions of the northern part of Colombia, such as in the Guajira Department, have been classified with class 7 winds (over 10 meters per second (m/s)). The only other region in Latin America with such high wind power classification is the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina.ESMAP 2007]

Colombia has an estimated theoretical wind power potential of 21 GW just in the Guajira Department—enough to generate sufficient power to meet the national demand almost twice over. However, the country only has an installed capacity of 19.5 MW of wind energy, tapping only 0.4% of its theoretical wind potential. This capacity is concentrated in a single project, the Jepírachi Wind Project, developed by Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) under a Carbon Finance mechanism arranged by the World Bank. [ [$FILE/JUquillas-9B.pdf| World Bank: Jepírachi Wind Project] ] . There are several projects under consideration, including a 200 MW project in Ipapure. ESMAP 2007]

See also: Wind and Wind Energy Atlas of Colombia 2006 (in Spanish) at [ UPME] , then click on "Publicaciones, then on "Recientes". Accessed on September 8, 2007.


Colombia has significant solar power resources because of its location in the equatorial zone, but the country sits in a complex region of the Andes where climatic conditions vary. The daily average radiation is 4.5 kWh/m2, and the area with the best solar resource is the Guajira Peninsula, with 6 kWh/m2 of radiation. Of the 6 MW of solar power installed in Colombia (equivalent to about 78,000 average-size solar panels), 57 percent is distributed in rural applications and 43 percent in communication towers and road signaling. Solar systems can be very suitable for applications in rural areas, where energy demands are dispersed and modest and grid connection is often more costly (UPME 2005). ESMAP 2007]


The former Colombian Institute of Electrical Energy, today IPSE, and the Latin American Energy Organization have identified three areas with geothermal power potential:
* Azufral, in Nariño Department, where the Azufral Volcano is located;
* Cerro Negro-Tufiño, also in Nariño Department, near the Chiles Volcano; and
* Paipa, located in the Cordillera Oriental in Boyacá Department. ESMAP 2007]

The potential of the main sources of geothermal power in Colombia is summarized below:

"Source": ESMAP 2007


Colombia has a great biomass power potential from agricultural residues (banana, coffee pulp, and animal waste). Its annual biomass power potential is estimated to be over 16 GWh, which is still less than 0.1% of current electricity production. The potential is distributed as follows:

* 11,828 MWh/yr from agriculture residues,
* 2,640 MWh/yr from bioethanol,
* 698 MWh/yr from natural forest residues.
* 658 MWh/yr from biodiesel, and
* 442 MWh/yr from planted forest residues.

The region of Urabá in the north of the Department of Antioquia has approximately 19,000 hectares of banana plantations, producing more than 1 million tons annually. It has also been estimated that approximately 85,000 TOE/yr could be produced from the 190 million m3/yr of biogas generated from coffee plantations, equivalent to 995,000 MWh.ESMAP 2007] In addition, the landfills in the four main cities in Colombia (Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, and Barranquilla) are estimated to have the potential to provide for an installed capacity of 47 MW (0.3% of current installed capacity). ESMAP 2007]

See also

Electricity sector in Colombia


ESMAP, 2007. "Review of Policy Framework for Increased Reliance on Renewable Energy in Colombia. " In press


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