FISE Electricity Fair: 15,000 Visitors, US$200 Million Business Deals, 320 Exhibitors, New Focus on Wind & Solar Power, Electric Vehicles
Medellin – the epicenter of Colombia’s mainly “green” electric power industry – this month hosted the 6th biannual FISE Electric Power Fair with more than 15,000 visitors, 320 exhibitors, US$200 million in new business deals — and a growing focus on wind/solar power as well as electric vehicles (EVs).
At the Plaza Mayor convention center here, attendees jammed into 150 technical sessions December 4 through 6 on electric power generation, transmission, distribution, emerging technologies, regulatory and legislative innovations — and eyed the emerging trend of “self-generation” not only at industrial scale but also at homes, shopping centers and small businesses.
More than 60 companies from 19 foreign countries participated in special “international business network” sessions co-organized by FISE and Colombia business-promotion agency ProColombia. In total, more than 1,000 business negotiation meetings took place at FISE, according to the organizers.
Medellin is the headquarters of most of Colombia’s electricity giants including ISA (the national power transmission operator and energy-trading center), Isagen (power generation), Celsia (power generation and transmission), EPM (the nation’s biggest power company), CIDET (industry research center) and many local and international engineering, technical and supply organizations.
FISE this year also dedicated a portion of trade-show floor space to electric vehicles (cars, motorcycles and bikes), EV charging technologies, solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies, smart-meters and exhibitions touting distributed-energy schemes.
While China, Europe and the USA are taking the global lead in EV sales and recharging networks, Colombia is just starting to see this market take hold, with 3,167 EVs sold through July 2019, according to FISE.
Given Medellin’s air-pollution problems – overwhelmingly caused by gasoline, diesel and natural-gas-fueled cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles – it’s likely that Medellin will continue to be Colombia’s national leader in the move to EVs, according to several expert presentations here.
For example: Medellin this year began deploying more than 70 “Metroplus” zero-emissions electric transit buses, which complement the city’s vast, electric-powered “Metro” railway system, a growing network of all-electric “Metrocable” aerial trams, and electric-powered road trams, which combined carry 1.5 million passengers daily.
In this respect alone, Medellin is light-years ahead of all other Colombian cities including Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Armenia, Manizales and elsewhere.
What’s more, EPM just inked a deal with U.S.-based global wind/solar-power developer Invenergy to build and operate at least 400 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar power plants in Colombia by 2025 (see Medellin Herald November 27, 2019), with investments likely hitting US$500 million to US$600 million.
EPM is Colombia’s first (and only) pioneer in wind power generation through its 19.5-MW “Jepírachi” wind farm –built in 2004 — in the La Guajira desert region, which has some of the world’s strongest and most-reliable wind conditions (averaging 9 meters per second, double the national average), experts noted here.
La Guajira also has Colombia’s highest solar insolation average — at six kilowatts per square meter, 66% higher than the national average, and much higher than the world average.
Which explains why La Guajira is the target of big new wind/solar power projects by major developers– including EPM and Celsia — as Colombia’s Energy Ministry vice-minister Diego Mesa outlined in a keynote presentation here.
Special tax exemptions — and Colombia’s new regulatory mandate requiring energy generators/distributors to incorporate 8% to 10% of electric power from “unconventional” renewable power sources (mainly wind and solar) – explains why these “green” sources will rise to 1.5-gigawatts capacity by 2022, up from only 50 MW today, Mesa showed.
That represents a COP$7.5 trillion (US$2.2 billion) investment in new wind/solar capacity here in Colombia, he added.
While Colombia has a relatively robust 97% of homes, businesses and industries connected to electric power, some remote areas still lack electricity, Mesa noted. Which is why the current national government aims to work with private companies to hook-up power for 500,000 more people by 2022. That’s one-quarter of the 2 million rural, remote Colombians still lacking power.
Meanwhile, the expected 2022 entry-into-operations of EPM’s 2.4-gigawatt, US$5 billion “Hidroituango” hydroelectric plant will help EPM meet its 2025 deadline for “carbon neutrality,” as EPM markets director Jose Enrique Salazar pointed out in a separate presentation here.
Nationally, Colombia aims to become “carbon neutral” in all of its industrial, commercial and personal activities by 2050 – with the mainly hydroelectric power industry running way ahead of all other sectors, and soon to be even “greener” with the upcoming wind/solar power plants.
By 2030, Colombia aims to have 3.3 gigawatts of wind-power installed, along with 2.57 GW of hydropower, 705 MW of solar, 650 MW of natural-gas-fired power, 187 MW of oil-based power, 889 MW of liquefied natural gas (LNG) fired power, 270 MW of LP-gas power and 250-MW of “small-scale” power, Salazar explained — adding that LNG-fired power will gradually replace what remains of the relatively “dirty” oil-fired power.
While carbon dioxide (CO2) “global warming” emissions aren’t yet taxed globally, Colombia already has a COP$16,422 (US$5) per-ton CO2 tax — and government officials are studying the possibility of creating a local emissions trading scheme (ETS), he added.
The new wind-power farms planned by EPM, Celsia and others will generate renewable energy credits (RECs) – tradable in world markets — as well as emissions-reduction certificates valuable for offsetting other, less-green operations in Colombia, he showed. EPM was the first company in Colombia to sell RECs globally, he explained.
The worst CO2 emitting sector in Colombia is transport vehicles. So, conversion of more of the car/truck/motorcycle/bus fleet to electric power (tapping “green” electricity generation) would help Colombia more rapidly achieve its “carbon neutrality” goals, Salazar added.