Colombia’s renewable auction ends in deadlock

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Firms will have a second chance to take part in Colombia’s first ever large-scale renewable auction in Q2 2019 after the first attempt this week saw all proposals rejected.

Antitrust concerns drove authorities in Bogotá to prevent the tendering of any renewable projects during an auction on Tuesday.

Under terms published in January 2019, the first auction would have granted contracts for the supply of 1.183GWh in renewable energy under 12-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) starting on 1 December 2021.

From EMSA and ENEL to Codensa, eight bidders were pre-accepted on 20 February by Colombia's national mining and energy planning unit UPME. At Tuesday’s auction, they lined up against 12 potential buyers.

“What we saw was the participation of buyers was very conservative. The prices they offered did not match those of several of the projects themselves,” energy minister María Fernanda Suárez told the media as she explained why no contracts had been awarded.

Later on Twitter, Suárez faced questions over whether the limited number of bidders suggests that barriers are preventing them from coming forward. In response, the minister noted that five of the eight bidders are new participants. “We’ll continue working to ensure more buyers get involved,” she added.

Open to wind, solar, geothermal, small hydro and wave energy developers, the auction was initially due to be held on 2 January. It forms part of Colombia’s efforts to boost installed renewable capacity from 50MW to 1.5GW, in a bid to diversify a largely hydro-based energy mix.

The country, singled out by experts as a PV market to watch this year, is the home of a growing number of developments. Projects announced in the past two years include Diverxia’s (240MW), Enel’s (86.2MW) and Celsia’s (8.8MW) plant.

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