Bloomberg Línea — Colombia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy (Minminas) announced Friday that it will award permits for offshore wind farms to allow investors to assess the viability of projects, and has published the regulations that will govern the process, with the first round to include areas located in the Caribbean Sea.
“The resolution sets out clear rules for obtaining permits for offshore areas through an open, fair and competitive mechanism, which translates into a transparent contest in which all interested parties capable of doing so will have the opportunity to participate,” Minminas said in a statement.
The country’s Maritime Directorate (DIMAR) will be responsible for advancing the process of granting the so-called temporary occupancy permit and the subsequent concessions.
“The permits assigned in this first round will allow investors to determine the viability of the projects and advance the licensing process, to then continue with the process of requesting the maritime concession and start the construction of the first offshore wind farms in Colombia,” the ministry added.
Bolívar and Atlántico will be the Colombian departments in whose jurisdiction the farms would be developed.
However, the ministry said “the resulting energy generation benefits are not exclusive to these departments, since they will be directed to the rest of the national territory”.
The next step in the process will be the appointment of an administrator for the process.
The awarding of the first round will be implemented 12 months from the publication of the bidding documents, which means the second half of 2023.
Technical specifications for the projects are expected to be published by the end of the year.
Wind power in its infancy in Colombia
Wind power remains in its infancy in Colombia, where 70% of electricity is generated by hydroelectric plants and 29% from fossil-fueled power plants, with wind power accounting for around 20 MW of total capacity.
In May the government published a long-term roadmap for the wind industry, authored by London-based Renewables Consulting Group (RCG) in partnership with the World Bank and the British government.
The country has the potential for 50 GW of offshore wind capacity in the western Atlantic basin, the document states, while forecasting the installation of up to 1 GW of offshore generation by 2030, 3 GW by 2040 and 9 GW by 2050.
In June, local renewable energy developer Celsia, a subsidiary of Grupo Argos, won a contract to build three onshore wind farms with a total generation capacity of 370 MW, and which are scheduled to come into operation in 2023.
Offshore wind potential
Despite its vast potential, offshore wind remains largely untapped as a global renewable energy resource, with the world on track to install only 234 GW of offshore wind by 2030, while the European Union has set a goal of installing 300 GW of offshore wind power by 2030, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
According to a report by BVG Associates commissioned by the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition (OREAC), there are five fundamental building blocks to developing offshore wind: stable policies; pipeline visibility; resourced institutions; a supportive and engaged public; and a competitive environment.
According to a 2020 World Bank report, Colombia’s offshore wind potential totals 109 GW of generation capacity, made up of 31 GW generated by fixed wind farms, and 78 GW by floating farms.