Ambassador highlights Colombia

Colombia has large untapped hydro and wind power potential that can not only meet its entire energy requirements but also supply sustainable energy to many of its neighbors in South and Central America, according to Roberto Vélez, Ambassador of Colombia to the UAE.

Roberto Vélez’s remarks came during a lecture titled ‘Colombia – a growing country and committed to sustainability’ that was held at Masdar Institute campus. The event was part of the Masdar Institute Lecture Series that specifically focuses on widening the knowledge horizons of the students who are set to become future leaders in clean energy and advanced technologies. Several students, faculty and staff as well as other senior officials attended the lecture. Later, the Colombian envoy was presented with a Masdar Institute memento.

According to a World Bank study, 70% of Colombia’s power generation is achieved through hydropower. Even though hydropower is the most popular power source in the country, it remains largely untapped. The total hydropower potential within Colombia is estimated at 93GW, enough to generate sufficient power to meet the national demand seven times over. The current hydropower usage totals only 9GW. Colombia’s other power sources include natural gas which provides 26%, coal at 3%, and other/wind power at 1%.

His Excellency Roberto Vélez said: “Colombia is in a privileged situation with its clean energy grid, in which more than 75% of electricity is hydro-generated. At the same time, our wind energy potential also remains largely untapped. We are ranked 1st in protecting investors in Latin America and 4th in the ease of doing business in the region. Additionally, in terms of globalization, Colombia is ranked 4th among Latin Americas countries, surpassing world economies such as Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia. All these factors make the country an ideal destination for investors who seek steady long-term returns.”

Colombia’s wind energy potential could be gauged by the fact that it has coastlines on both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The Guajira Peninsula on the north-eastern tip of the country alone has the potential to generate 21GW, enough power to provide for the country two times over. However, even with this rare wind potential Colombia currently has an installed capacity of only 19.5MW, a meager 0.4% of Guajira’s potential. The global affairs magazine ‘Diplomatic Courier’ points out that of all South America, Colombia has the best geological conditions to provide stable wind power. Offshore regions of northern Colombia have been classified with class seven winds (winds over nine meters per second).

At the same time, hydropower sector has attracted the interest of major international players. Spain’s Endesa, which operates locally via its Colombian subsidiary Emgesa, has a 51% stake in the 1213-MW Guavio plant, the country’s largest hydroelectric facility. The US-based AES owns the 1000-MW Chivor hydel station in Bogotá.

His Excellency Roberto Vélez commended Masdar Institute for its cutting-edge research in sustainable clean energy and advanced technology areas. He urged the students and faculty to continue their work and contribute to finding solutions to humanity’s toughest challenges such as climate change and energy security.

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology is an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies. Serving as a key pillar of innovation and human capital, Masdar Institute remains fundamental to Masdar’s core objectives of developing knowledge economy and diversifying Abu Dhabi’s revenue streams.

Established as an on-going collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.

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