After years of inertia, Colombia is finally embracing non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE).

Driven by an abundance of natural resources, government incentives and falling production costs, the Andean country is attracting unprecedented investments in wind, biomass, small hydropower and, particularly, solar projects. 

In the past year, energy developers have submitted plans for more than 1,000MW of new photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity, according to official figures. 

Some 326 early stage solar projects totalling 3,387MW are currently registered with the mining and energy ministry, up from 2,385MW a year earlier.

The 14,708MW of proposed new capacity also includes 6,360MW of hydropower, 3,160MW of thermal, 1,713MW of wind and 88MW of biomass.

A report by the government's UPME energy planning unit shows that a record 986MW of solar projects were registered in January. Among them was the 250MW Ambalema park being developed by Desarollo Integral de Proyectos Global SAS in Beltrán, Cundinamarca department.

Surging solar interest comes as the government redoubles efforts to promote private sector investment in NCRE after passing a law in 2014 that granted incentives such as tax breaks to developers.

In November, energy and gas regulator Creg said the country's first NCRE supply auction for utility-scale projects would be held in the first half of 2018.

And in January the mines and energy ministry published a draft decree for NCRE policy guidelines, which has been made available for public consultation.

The initatives form part of a wider plan to reduce the country's dependence on hydropower and fossil fuel-fired thermoelectric plants, which make up more than 95% of the generation mix.


Figure: Maximum Demand


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