Colombian oil giant Ecopetrol goes solar with 10 MW project

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Colombian state-owned oil company Empresa Colombiana de Petróleos (Ecopetrol) has announced it will build its first solar park, with a capacity of between 10 MW and 15 MW at its Castilla field, near the municipality of Castilla La Nueva, in the Meta department of central Colombia.

The company said the tender process to select interested developers will be launched in the fourth quarter, and the plant will be deployed on an 18-hectare area. After the tender, when the viability of the project has been proven, a construction phase of more than 12 months will begin.

“This initiative is part of the company’s plan to strengthen the development of renewable energy projects and contribute to the diversification of Ecopetrol’s energy portfolio,” said the company in a statement.

Ecopetrol specified a renewable energy power plant portfolio with a combined capacity of around 140 MW is being considered for its facilities in the Colombian departments of Norte de Santander, Huila, Meta and Antioquia.

“The commitment to renewable energies would make the Ecopetrol Group one of the main solar energy generators in the country,” said Felipe Bayón, president of Ecopetrol. Only a few solar plants are under construction in Colombia, with just one 10 MW PV facility currently operational.

More solar may see the light of the day over the next two or three years, as the Colombian government recently launched its first renewable energy auction, which may assign up to 1.5 GW.

The latest two global oil companies to announce solar plans were U.S.-based Vitol and Spain’s Repsol.

Before that many others had made the move, including Russia’s Lukoil; big brands Shell, Total, Eni and BP – which re-entered the solar business in late 2017; Norway’s Statoil, now known as Equinor; Hungary’s Mol; Oman’s PDO; Brazil’s Petrobras; Argentina’s YPF; and Jamaica’s PJC.