In La Guajira, the wind speed is twice the world average, while solar radiation exceeds the world average by 66 percent. This great potential made this department become the epicenter of the energy transition of Colombia.
It also attracted multiple investors who are currently developing a transmission line (Collector) and 21 wind and solar power generation projectsthat add up to 2,500 megawatts of capacity and that should be operating by the end of 2024.
(Also read: ‘The energy transition is in intensive care,’ companies tell Petro)
Today the possibilities imply that Colombia is a world power for the energy transition
But the total potential of La Guajira for this type of initiative is greater, at 25,000 megawatts. “With all the generation capacity of La Guajira, we can replace the consumption demand in the country and we have plenty of energy. Today the possibilities imply that Colombia is a world power for the energy transition”, stated President Gustavo Petro.
However, this boom which started in 2018 has been slowed down by the social conflict in this departmentwhich has already led to Enel Green Power indefinitely suspending the construction of the Windpeshi wind farm.
The delay in the construction of Colectora, which is the transmission line that will inject this energy into the national grid, has also had an influence. Grupo Energía Bogotá (GEB), through its subsidiary Enlaza, took five years to complete the prior consultation processes with neighboring communities.
For this reason, entry into operation at the end of 2022 will not be modified as planned in 2018 when the project was awarded, and it is now expected to do so in July 2025.
To unblock these projects, the National Government subscribed an agreement for the energy transition in La Guajira with communities, regional authorities, companies and unions in the electricity sector.
According to Ser Colombia, this pact could destroy 13 percent of wind generation in this regionbecause commitments and concrete actions are defined to carry out the projects.
And it is that the delay of these initiatives implies that the consumption of Colombians, which is growing, must be supported with more expensive energy sources, directly impacting the pocket of citizens after a couple of years.
This pact will also be an opportunity to carry out the state investment that supports the closing of social gaps and boosted the development of this region of the country.
For Santiago Soto, lawyer and founding partner of Soto Luna Abogados, the signing of this pact «is positive» because there seems to be a will from the Wayuu community to be more flexible when participating in prior consultation processes in this region.
(Also read: Ecopetrol seeks partners to advance its energy transition project)
It continues to be mistakenly believed that the signing of agreements, and the issuance of decrees and resolutions will materialize the energy transition
And he highlights that there are many projects throughout the territory that areand they are stuck on account of previous consultations that take exorbitant times and scenarios of social conflict with disproportionate requests from the community, which end up making these projects unfeasible, superimposing individual interest over general interest.
But this situation is not only registered in La Guajira with solar and wind energy generation projects, but also with initiatives from the mining and hydrocarbon sectors. For this reason, Santiago Soto hopes that this same pact will be replicated in various areas and the Government check with a special magnifying glass the projects are suspended due to social dynamics.
Meanwhile, José Vicente Zapata, a partner at Holland & Knight, is more radical in his position and assures that «a pact is not enough» to unlock all energy projects in La Guajira.
In his opinion, «it continues to be mistakenly believed that the signing of pacts, and the issuance of decrees and resolutions will materialize the energy transition. Nothing further from reality«.
(Also read: ‘Anla is not a barrier to the energy transition’: director defends his management)
Consider that the solution to the problems in La Guajira is that the State turns its efforts towards an effective accompaniment and implement immediate decisions in such a way that institutional capacity is strengthened and verified, community training is managed in understanding the energy reality and the transition is positioned as a common need within the framework of sustainable socio-environmental development.
«As long as the regulations and decisions remain theoretical and lengthy, we will continue to fall in the Energy Transition Index of the World Economic Forum,» adds Zapata.
In this process, the judicial branch also has an essential role at the time of complaints that ignore the importance of the energy transitionin particular when these demands «intend to correct historical abandonments of the State resulting in lengthy decisions and difficult application in the face of the growing need for sustainable energy.»
In addition, companies must continue, in a timely manner, strengthening their relationship, understanding and accompaniment of the realities and needs of the communities that are neighbors to their generation projects.