The Spanish firm leading Colombia's offshore wind drive

Bnamericas Published: Friday, February 03, 2023
The Spanish firm leading Colombia's offshore wind drive

Spain's BlueFloat Energy is pursuing plans to develop three large-scale wind farms off Colombia's northern coast, as it seeks to become a key player in the country's clean energy transition.

BNamericas talks to country manager Armando Politi about progress, potential local resistance and broader benefits of the company's wind farms.

BNamericas: The Wayu people in Cabo de la Vela requested local authorities to not approve a permit for the Astrolabio wind farm, claiming they weren't properly consulted in 2021. Are you aware of this claim? How will you ensure the project is not affected and address the concerns of these communities? 

Politi: BlueFloat Energy is a European company, a pioneer in sustainable energy transformation in the world with more than 15 offshore wind projects under development in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan.

The Colombian coast is very attractive for this type of project due to its geographical location. The departments of Bolívar and Atlántico were selected for the development of Vientos Alisios, the first offshore wind farm to achieve pre-feasibility in Colombia, as it is the third most wind energy dense area of the 45 evaluated in the country. 

Astrolabio is another project whose eventual development could take place after the completion of the necessary studies in the Guajira area, a very attractive location for the development of offshore wind power projects.

Although an application was submitted two years ago, only this year was authorization given for the installation of an antenna to measure winds and data for the studies of the area, which will not be carried out before 2025. For this reason, the plan to approach the communities has not progressed, nor will studies be carried out until the government and the national and local authorities are certain about the possibility of carrying out offshore wind energy projects in the sea surrounding La Guajira department. 

BNamericas: When is the project due to be completed? Could social resistance affect the construction timetable or even the project's future? 

Politi: For BlueFloat Energy it is essential to work hand in hand with regulatory bodies and the government, complying with all the standards required by the State. In this way, we have been able to confirm the development of three wind farms. The first of these is the Vientos Alisios offshore wind farm, which is working side by side with [port and maritime authority] Dimar and [energy planning unit] UPME, helping to make steady progress in the development process. 

In addition, the other two projects have already obtained 85% of the pre-feasibility stage approvals: Bergantín and Goleta, both in Santa Marta bay, in Magdalena department, at an approximate distance from the coast of 10km-35km and 5km-27km, with a depth of around 500m. 

BNamericas: What would you tell communities opposing these projects? How would they benefit?

Politi: Offshore wind energy is an important step toward decarbonization and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, predicted by the Colombian government to be between 20% and 51% by 2030. The benefits of wind energy are highly positive worldwide, and the number of offshore wind power projects continues to rise. That is why studies, such as environmental studies, impact on communities, wildlife, fisheries, and landscaping, among others, are required.

These projects are very important for the region. The Vientos Alisios wind farm (between the coasts of the departments of Atlántico and Bolívar) is expected to provide clean and reliable energy for more than 180,000 homes and more than 500 direct construction jobs per year, as well as training a significant number of citizens. 

BNamericas: Has BlueFloat Energy sought, or will it seek, assurances from the government and/or other local authorities that the project is not unconstitutional? 

Politi: Offshore wind energy offers a technologically advanced and innovative solution to achieve the world's energy transition. In Colombia, the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 20% and 51% by 2030. To achieve these optimal results, BlueFloat Energy has the necessary technical capabilities and expertise for the development of these projects, but also is working jointly with the government, regulatory bodies and communities to become a fundamental part of the energy transition in the country.


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