April 13, 2024
Infrastructure

ISA Aims for 2024 Start-up of Colombia-Panama Electric Power Interconnection

Medellin-based electric power transmission giant ISA announced December 12 that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the binational “Interconexion Electrica Colombia-Panama” (ICP) joint venture inked a technical cooperation funding deal in the run-up for a planned 2024 launch of the first-ever power-transfer connection line between Colombia and Panama.

The proposed project “is crucial for consolidating the regional energy market,” according to ISA, which operates Colombia’s national power grid.

The 500-kilometers-long transmission line would connect the existing Cerromatoso substation in Cordoba, Colombia, to the “Panama II” substation (Panama Province). The line would employ high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) transmission technology, at a capacity of 2×200 megawatts and a DC voltage level of ± 300 kV, according to ISA.

For project design, technical analysis and environmental surveys, IDB is now putting-up US$500,000, while ICP is contributing another US$4.96 million — on top of US$4 million earlier invested in project feasibility studies since 2006.

ICP’s main shareholders are ISA and ETESA, Panama’s state-owned power-grid operator.

“Interconexión Eléctrica Colombia-Panamá is fundamental for consolidating the regional energy market and for integrating the Andean Community with Central America, since it already has an organized market through the SIEPAC grid,” according to ISA.

(Note: SIEPAC is the Central American Electrical Interconnection System – “Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica de los Países de América Central” – an in-development interconnection of the power grids of six Central American nations, covering 37 million consumers in Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.)

“This [Panama-Colombia] interconnection will have access to new renewable sources, contributing to the optimal use of energy resources available, and enabling increased system reliability by providing more generation options to meet demand growth,” according to ISA.

“It will also support countries affected by [power outage] emergencies and reduce carbon emissions due to the substitution of fossil fuels,” ISA added.

Last year, the “Guna Yala Congress” — a British-based tropical-forest conservation organization involved with Panamanian indigenous groups – “approved the execution of technical and environmental surveys within its territory and informed the creation of a commission to support its execution,” according to ISA.

“The proposal was presented under the approach of an environmentally and comprehensively developed sustainable corridor that includes Mortí-Mulatupu Pan-American Highway, Interconexión Eléctrica transmission line, and an electrification project for communities in the influence area within the framework of the initiative called Energía para Todos en Panama 2019-2013 (Energy for Everyone in Panama: 2019-2013), led by IDB, an entity that supports this project since 2006.

“Currently, environmental impact and field design studies are being executed, which are developed in a coordinated manner and by sector. Project operations based on outstanding authorizations and surveys to be carried out would start in 2024 as estimated date.

“The interconnection topic has been included in the bilateral agenda and has been subject in various agreements between both countries.

“These agreements have ratified the will to move towards the construction of a long-term future that prioritizes energy integration among Mexico, Central America, and Colombia, as well as towards the need for reinforcing efforts for its feasibility and financing, and the need for making policy adjustments to implement the regulatory harmonization scheme,” ISA concluded.

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