Supporting Colombia's Clean Energy Transition

To assist the government of Colombia in achieving its renewable energy integration and energy transition targets, the USAID-NREL Partnership provides technical and regulatory support to key public and private stakeholders in the Colombian energy sector.

This support includes a comprehensive training program to enable Colombia's energy sector workforce to integrate growing volumes of variable renewable energy (VRE), technical assistance for integrating distributed energy resources and electric vehicles, regulatory and policy support for clean hydrogen, geothermal, and offshore wind energy, and technical review and design support for the reconstruction of Providencia Island to integrate renewable energy into its grid after the destruction caused by Hurricane Iota. The implementing partners that make up the development team include NREL, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Colombia Mission, USAID's Scaling Up Renewable Energy program, implemented by Tetra Tech, and the U.S. Energy Association.

Training to Empower Colombia's Energy Sector Workforce

Integracion eficiente de energias renovables variables al sistema Colombiano

Diversifying its energy mix to include more solar and wind renewable energy is a priority for Colombia, which is undergoing rapid transformation in its electricity sector as a result of changing economic, political, technological, and environmental conditions. To support Colombia's energy transition priorities, the development team created a series of training modules designed to ready Colombia's energy sector workforce to participate in the construction, operation, and grid integration of VRE projects. Nearly 60 early-career professionals from over 20 organizations within the Colombian energy sector participated in the training program. The participant selection process targeted candidates with potential for future leadership roles and included an emphasis on gender diversity and women's involvement.

The training modules were originally designed to be presented in-person in Colombia; however, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the development team reimagined and reformatted them into a robust online curriculum with recorded presentations from leading energy experts as well as virtual collaboration and discussion among participants. The modules' topics included:

  • Future trends for solar and wind integration
  • Policy and planning for efficient integration of VRE
  • The economics of VRE
  • Distribution sector planning for VRE
  • Implementing a resilient system with increased volume of VRE
  • Electrification of the transportation sector and beneficial electrification of the economy
  • Leadership and change management.

The initial cohort of participants developed action plans to apply the program's training content to real-world energy questions they are facing in their respective organizations. The development team selected four action plan teams to receive tailored technical assistance from NREL to support plan implementation. The four plans selected represent various topics associated with planning for the efficient integration of distributed energy resources, including:

  • Electric vehicle fleet planning
  • Smart city planning for electric mobility
  • Distributed solar photovoltaic generation modeling
  • Regulatory considerations for distributed energy resource integration.

Each of the selected action plans—led by the Comisión de Regulación de Energía y Gas, Empresa de Energía de Boyacá, Grupo de energía de Bogotá, and the Association for Renewable Energy—represent an opportunity for growth within the Colombian electricity sector. NREL’s cohort approach to technical assistance—wherein each team will receive tailored assistance, while updates and results will be regularly shared across the four action plan teams—is designed to draw out important connections, leverage applicable resources (including research and analysis), foster robust stakeholder involvement, and facilitate coordinated development across related initiatives.

NREL has also been providing technical support for the development of a training program to indigenous communities in the La Guajira region of Colombia, where significant renewable energy project development is being planned. As part of NREL's role in the project, the lab provided technical training materials to integrate in the courses, including resource maps from RE Data Explorer, educational images of renewable energy technologies, and translated webinars from the workforce training program mentioned previously.

Analysis Support to Build Resilient Energy Systems

The USAID-NREL Partnership team is also supporting Colombia's Ministry of Energy and Mines, Sociedad Productora de Energía de San Andrés y Providencia S.A. E.S.P., Ecopetrol, and other stakeholders with efforts related to the planning and design for rebuilding the energy system on Providencia Island, which was decimated by Hurricane Iota in November 2020, with the goal of creating a more sustainable and resilient energy infrastructure to help Providencia withstand the ever-growing effects of climate change.

NREL's technical assistance is being tailored to address specific needs identified by USAID-Colombia and other key partners, including providing research, analysis, and direct technical assistance to inform the development of an Energy Master Plan for Providencia Island and support the integration of renewable energy resources at the distribution level. Learn about Providencia Island’s energy transition plans in the Climatelinks blog, and view the power system capacity expansion analysis published by NREL that details the costs and benefits of integrating renewable energy and energy storage onto the island: Providencia Island High-Level Power System Capacity Expansion Analyses (2022).

A History of Successful Collaboration

Engagement with the government of Colombia began in 2017, when the development team provided support for the design, preparation, and implementation of international renewable energy auction mechanisms to develop large-scale solar and wind energy resources and assign long-term power purchase contracts. 

In February 2019, Colombia carried out its reliability auction and in October 2019, its first solar and wind power procurement auction. The two auctions resulted in a total of 2.5 gigawatts of new solar and wind projects to be in operation by 2023, which will allow the government of Colombia to surpass its initial goal. The government of Colombia then announced it would increase its goal of increasing the share of solar and wind integration to 20% by 2030. As such, the government of Colombia is considering and developing supportive policies, regulations, programs, and initiatives to successfully meet their renewable energy targets.

The USAID-NREL Partnership is continuing to provide ad-hoc support to the government of Colombia and other entities on a variety of renewable energy technical, policy, and regulatory questions. The development team organizes an ongoing series of interactive capacity building workshops on geothermal, hydrogen, offshore wind, and other topics that aim to connect Ministry of Energy and Mines and other Colombia energy sector stakeholders with national and international stakeholders to exchange information and ideas and promote ongoing dialogue and coordination between public and private sector energy stakeholders in Colombia.

Colombia's Power Sector Transformation Videos

Únase a la Transformación de Energígía Limpia de Colombia
Versión en Español

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Join Colombia's Clean Energy Transformation
English Version

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Acelerando la Transición Energética de Colombia a través del Empoderamiento de la Personal
Versión en Español

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Accelerating Colombia's Energy Transition through Workforce Empowerment
English Version

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