In mid-February, Felipe Bayón, president of Ecopetrol, announced a new call for the construction of the second solar park to provide clean energy to the company. This is San Fernando, with 50 MWp, which would add to the one the company already has in the same area, Castilla, with 21 MWp.
According to the company itself, the new project to be located in the department of Meta will transcend, it will begin construction in the middle of this year and it is estimated that it will come into operation in December.
This project will serve to self-supply part of the energy demand of the San Fernando and Apiay pumping stations, as well as the Castilla, Chichimene and Apiay oil fields, located in the Eastern Plains.
According to what the company itself has disclosed, the Ecopetrol Group plans to build at least 5 additional solar parks in the next two years in Meta, Santander, Huila and Antioquia. But also the construction of wind farms.
In an exclusive interview for Strategic Energy, Óscar Urrea, Ecopetrol’s Energy Manager, comments on the state of the company’s plan.
How will they get to 2022?
We will be reaching approximately 300 MW, although it may be a little more: 330 or 340 MW. This will mean that our energy supply for the operations we carry out goes from the 5% of unconventional renewables that we have today to 20% by 2022.
And within this portfolio of projects can you mention any that are about to start operations soon?
Felipe Bayón, our president (of Ecopetrol), made the announcement of a second 50 MWp photovoltaic solar park, which will be located in a pumping station of our pipeline system, called San Fernando, which is also located in the same municipality where our first solar plant, Castilla (21 MWp), is already operating.
We are initiating these projects with energy purchase contracts based on competitive processes, inviting international and national players to compete to achieve attractive energy prices. These ventures are located on their own land and the contract we establish is for 15 years. In addition, we are preparing other calls, two or three additional to this one, to complete more or less, 168 or 170 MW, including San Fernando (that is, about 120 more MW). These processes are coming soon, and we are even analyzing that some are clearly developed by Ecopetrol.
Are all solar photovoltaic ventures?
These 168 MW yes, they are solar. But we also have a wind portfolio that we are maturing. Wind technology is a little more complex than solar photovoltaic; However, we are maturing around 80 MW under the concept of self-generation.
Are these 80 MW of wind included in the 300 MW program they have by 2022?
How is Ecopetrol in terms of non-conventional renewable energy consumption?
We currently have a self-generation park that currently has around 1,200 MW. And already inside we have 2 non-conventional renewable plants.
The first is the 21 MWp Castilla photovoltaic solar park, which began operating in October last year. And we have 43 MW at Bioenergy, which is a cogeneration plant that works with sugarcane bagasse.
This installed capacity (64 MW) with renewables grants approximately 5% of the self-generation park. In addition, last year we participated in the long-term auction of renewable energy. There we were awarded 30 MW and that power is also considered as part of our generation portfolio in terms of incorporating renewables.
Two models of standardization of contracts between private companies are being evaluated at CREG. Once approved, will they be interested in participating to buy energy?
We participate in the market mainly buying energy. And I believe that all the mechanisms that allow maturing and improving in all the operations of the national market and a more efficient operation are welcome.
On the other hand, a discussion that is taking place between major players and specialists is whether or not a new state auction should be launched this year. What do you think about that?
I believe that beyond the goals set by this Government with the development of renewable energy (1,500 MW), which has already far exceeded them, I think it would be good to wait for the eyes of the Energy Mining Planning Unit (UPME) to see how all the awarded projects are progressing and based on that analyze the issue. Because we need the projects to advance and materialize (for more than 2,000 MW).
Text: Guido Gubinelli