The Colombian World Energy Council Member Committee aims to study and implement of projects aimed mainly at the rational use of energy resources in all its aspects, in order to promote sustainable energy development. These projects consider the production, transportation, distribution, marketing and use of energy for maximum benefit, taking into consideration global trends in regulation and minimizing environmental impacts. COCME’s mission is to promote the sources and sustainable use of energy to provide greater benefits for people.
José Antonio Vargas Lleras is the World Energy Council’s Vice Chair for the Latin America & Caribbean region and also serves as Chairman of the Colombian Committee of the Council. Since 2006 he has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of Electricity Distribution Company CODENSA and of Electricity Generation Company Emgesa, subsidiary firms of Enel-Endesa in Colombia. Dr Vargas Lleras has been Chairman of the Energy Commission for Regional Integration (CIER) and has held several managerial positions in many companies in the Colombian electric sector including the post of CEO of the Bogota Power Company. Professionally trained as a lawyer, and also a university professor, he has served as an Ambassador to the European Union and the Permanent Representative of Colombia to the World Customs Organisation.
Energy in Colombia
Comparing 2019 and 2020 results, Colombia’s energy leaders see higher uncertainty around the country’s relationship with the US, regional integration dynamics and economic issues. Action Priorities are consistent with those identified in the previous year, with a clear focus on innovation and technology progress.
US Policy rises in the uncertainty section in this year’s survey. The first quarter of 2019 saw an increase in Colombia’s oil exports to the US, which benefited from weakened transactions with other countries, including Venezuela. This makes Colombia even more reliant on US trade relations. At the same time, there is concern about the impact of the US-China trade dispute on investments from both countries into Colombia.
Regional Integration is perceived with higher impact and higher uncertainty, reflecting strained relations with neighbouring Venezuela. The influx of migrants fleeing Venezuela into Colombia is defined by President Ivan Duque Marquez as “the most horrendous migration crisis in Latin America’s recent history.” At the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit, the Colombian President appealed for a next phase in the partnership with the US to manage growing regional challenges and enable economic development.
Exchange Rates are perceived with much higher impact this year. Since 2014, Colombia’s economy has been struggling following the collapse of oil prices. Up until then, the petroleum industry generated a fifth of government fiscal revenues, 5% of GDP and the majority of export income. More recently, drilling operations for oil and gas have picked up and licensing rounds are being run for the first time in 5 years. Exchange rates will be crucial to define the potential for economic recovery from restored oil production.
Innovative Transport remains consistent as an Action Priority, with the steady rollout of government initiatives to introduce nearly half a million EVs in the market over the next decade. Recent developments include the completion of the country’s first charging station for electric vehicles and the 2019 release of Eolo, a wind-powered electric car which is 100% designed, developed and built by Colombian engineers.
Energy Efficiency also maintains the same level of impact and persists as an Action Priority. Recent years have seen the implementation of the Programmes for Efficient and Rational Energy Use (Proure). The Mining and Energy Planning Unit (UPME) expects an increase of nearly 52% in energy demand between 2016 and 2033. Energy efficiency is seen as a way to improve energy security along with the effort to diversify energy sources.
Digitalisation is seen with higher uncertainty but remains an Action Priority. The importance attributed to this issue follows progress towards renewables integration and energy efficiency measures. Still, laws and projects that have been put forward seem to revolve around the need to increase savings with less focus on digital solutions to improve performance and encourage ‘prosumer’ engagement. A key challenge is the difference in pace between technology development and regulatory adaptation, which is comparatively slow.
According to the Colombia Issues Monitor map, in 2019, Colombian energy leaders will be busy focusing on extreme weather risks, renewable energy, corruption, energy efficiency and innovative transport. Dominated by fossil fuels and hydropower, the Colombian government has recently been working to encourage the development of non-conventional renewable energy sources. To this end, it has set a goal of increasing the capacity of these sources to 11,113 MW in 2018 (compared to 9,893 MW in 2013) and in adopted Law 1715, which provides for the integration promoting these sources and promoting both energy efficiency and demand-side measures.