Renewables to spawn Colombia ecotourism

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Renewable energy initiatives are set to provide a platform for ecotourism development in remote Colombian communities, a consultant told BNamericas.

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According to David Harbord, director of UK-based economics consultancy Market Analysis, areas such as the northern Guajira department stand to benefit from investment in unconventional power projects, particularly wind and solar generators.

"Colombia has literally thousands of small, relatively isolated communities which have limited or no access to conventional sources of energy," Harbord said.

"This often means that they lack the power necessary to desalinize or purify drinking water, and limits access to information technologies such as computers and mobile phones. In our work on wind power in Colombia, we visited a number of such communities in the Guajira region where the potential for small-scale wind and solar energy is enormous."

Market Analysis has set up a charitable foundation called Ferdescol, which aims to equip undeveloped areas with solar panels and water desalinization plants. Ferdescol is now seeking funding to support a pilot project in a village near the city of Riohacha.

"The community has a single diesel generator, which is expensive to operate and is cut off from land access during the rainy season," Harbord said.

"Availability of reliable access to electricity, communications technologies and desalinized drinking water will enable the community to develop an ecotourism project built around the presence of a large flock of flamingos in the area. But the potential for this type of project exists in all areas of Colombia."

The full interview with Harbord can be seen in this week's Electric Power Perspectives, for subscribers.