• Lun. May 29th, 2023

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El Niño phenomenon: this is how Colombia shielded itself from running out of electricity – Sectors – Economy


May 19, 2023

In the years 2015 and 2016 several factors coincided that put Colombia in a high risk of facing energy rationing like the one that was made 31 years ago. However, the ‘Apagar Paga’ savings campaign was very important in preventing Colombians from running out of electricity.

Now, seven years later, the executive director of the National Association of Generating Companies (Andeg), Alejandro Castañeda, assures that the country is better prepared than then to face a phenomenon of the child and, in addition, during this time several of the inconveniences that existed at that time have been solved.

(Also read: El Niño phenomenon will not cause energy rationing, but it will raise rates)

On that occasion the problem was not the availability of the plants but financial aspects because the scarcity price was «misvalued» The thermal plants were already paid less than what it cost to generate energy.

This is not to ensure 100 percent peace of mind, but it is a different boot situation.

This matter has already been modified and, today, it can be said that the aforementioned price is «well defined and is approximately 1,200 pesos, which means that all plants have the incentive to produce energy«.

Another difference is that there is already a regasification plant in Cartagena, which came into operation in December 2016 and allows a better supply of gas for thermoelectric plants (1,800 MW) that are located on the Caribbean Coast.

«This is not to ensure 100 percent peace of mind.but it is a different starting situation,» said the union leader.

Besides, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Irene Vélezensures that the country currently has a generation matrix that amounts to 18.9 gigawatts, an additional 15 percent to what it had in 2015.

«We are not seeing a risk of neglect of demand»

In dialogue with EL TIEMPO, Jaime Alejandro Zapata, manager of the National Dispatch Center (CND) assured that there is no risk of energy rationing in Colombia and that the national system is prepared to meet user consumption when the El Niño phenomenon arrives.

Is Colombia prepared for the El Niño phenomenon?

Jaime Alejandro Zapata Uribe, manager of the National Dispatch Center

Yeah. The Colombian electricity system has a capacity of close to 19,000 megawatt hours and we normally have a demand of approximately 11,000 megawatt hours. So from that point of view We have a good capacity to meet the energy demand of our country.

Demand service, under normal conditions, is close to 80 percent with hydraulic generation and the remaining 20 percent is with thermal generation. When we see that the contributions of hydraulic generation to meet demand begin to decrease, the diversity of the generation matrix that we have begins to have much more relevance.

For the El Niño phenomenon that we will have in 2023, we have how to meet the demand for energy

As operators we do different scenarios to be prepared and be able to meet the demand without any setbacks. We even found that for the El Niño phenomenon that we will have in 2023 we have how to meet the country’s energy demand.

Obviously, we always make clear the need for the entry of transmission and generation projects that are underway because as demand grows, it is important that projects continue to enter; nevertheless, with the capacity we have to meet the demandfor now.

But it is also important to emphasize that, to the extent that projects do not enter, the system is becoming more vulnerable. If demand grows and new projects do not enter, the same capacity is maintained and vulnerability is increased, which would be reflected in the event of any contingency, major damage to any network equipment or any generation resource.

(Read also: Government presents draft of the new policy for the energy service)

Do the delays of the 2019 auction projects create an unforeseen risk?

For 2023 and for the coming year we are not seeing a risk of neglect of demand, even if it does not enter projects. It should be noted that we are giving all the signals and working jointly with the Government and with all the actors to try to get these projects into operation as far as possible.

Many projects are behind schedule due to social issues that, somehow, with the work groups that have been established in the medium term we will have the green light so that these projects can enter our matrix.

Will there be a risk of rationing by 2028 due to these delays, since an energy deficit is estimated?

No, for the long term these are not the only projects we are waiting for. By 2027 we are waiting for the other cfour units of Hidroituango and there are other thermal generation projects that are also underway.

That date is in the longer term and there are additionally other projects that expand the transmission network. If the conditions and assumptions with which sensitivities run are fulfilled, we also have how to meet the demand in the country.

If nothing enters in that time horizon and the demand continues to grow, we have how to attend to it, but We depend a lot on water supplies that we have in the country.

(Also read: El Niño phenomenon: when will it begin to be felt in Colombia?)


Archive / WEATHER

Is the current level of the reservoirs a good sign to face El Niño?

We have a good level of reservoirs at the moment to face the current conditions. The water contributions of the first 15 days of May are below the historical average and that puts us in a condition of permanent monitoring and vigilance to go on evaluating what more signals we have to give.

This must be accompanied by the efficient use of energy and campaigns that never run out, to the extent that let’s use energy efficientlyWe will be better prepared at any time for any situation.

We have a reservoir level of 58 percent of the useful volume, it is a very good level, but if the water supply continues to weaken, that level will drop very quickly. At this time it is a good level to start attending to the demand with an El Niño phenomenon.