Wind energy in Ecuador: Plans to install 200 MW in five years

The plan aims to develop wind power projects to enable the country emerge from its dependence on oil. The government plans to change the country’s energy mix to reduce dependence on thermal power and hydrocarbons.

Within this plan includes the use of cleaner methods of power generation. One of them is wind energy and the goal is to reach an installed capacity of 200 megawatts (MW) over the next five years, according to information from Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy (Merr).

Currently operates only the wind farm in San Cristóbal (Galápagos), opened in 2007, and the Government hopes to install other two wind farms until 2011.

Galapagos Wind Farm has three wind turbines. The windmills has 80 meters in height and serves to provide energy to about 30% of the population of the archipelago, according to Merran technicians.

This wind farm has an installed capacity of 2.4 megawatts and generates annual average of 3.2 gigawatt hours (GWh). The wind farm was funded by 80% by international bodies like the G-8 and the United Nations Programme for Development (UNDP) and 20% by the Ecuadorian State.

Ecuador currently being developed in Loja Villonaco wind farm with a capacity of 15 MW and would be operational this year.

A third wind farm will be implemented in Salinas in Imbabura. This wind power project requires an investment of $22 million and will have a capacity of 10 MW. Officials hope to come into operation in the first quarter of 2011.

Other projects to be defined, will be installed on the coast, according MEER technicians. For Manuel Salgado, of the College of Electrical Engineers of Pichincha, wind energy projects are positive, especially that will provide power to the proposed eco airport Baltra (Galapagos). "Climate change requires new sources of energy, and the location of certain parts of the country is excellent to harness the wind," he said.

By José Santamarta,