Experiences of Midterm Planning in The Colombian Electricity System

Case Summary: 

In the early 1990s, Colombia suffered an extreme drought that caused nationwide programmed blackouts of up to 10 hours daily. As a result, the Colombian government asked for long and midterm planning tools to forecast electricity demand, as well as the infrastructure required to fulfill it. Law 143 of 1994 required the Ministry of Mines and Energy to produce and periodically update a National Energy Plan (NEP) for the long-term view and a Reference Expansion Plan (REP) to guide the midterm growth of interconnected electrical systems in the country. This case study discusses the evolution and performance of national electrical matrix planning, as well as the main challenges faced under the increasing stress brought by climate change.

The development of Colombia’s REP is a good practice because of its influence on the structuring of the current energy-generation matrix, which looks to enhance the system’s reliability and coverage under the current scenario of climate variability, as well as the commitment of the electricity sector to reduce its emissions. In other words, it has started considering a new pillar, the environment, under a new set of regulatory changes in order to address and fulfill the NDC.

Key findings:

  • The 1993 electrical market reform has diversified the generation matrix, with the share of hydropower going from 78 percent in 1993 to 70 percent by 2018.
  • Demand forecasting has improved its prediction results as more iterations of the REP are generated. The 2005 and 2010 versions of the REP, for example, include errors no larger than 8 percent.
  • The REP updates have helped the Ministry of Mines and Energy understand the mitigation potential and subsequent policies needed to help achieve the Colombian NDC.
  • The system’s resilience has been planned as an installed capacity issue, leading to over-installation during certain periods.
  • Emissions factor is considered as a decision variable due to increased environmental concerns.
Latin America and Caribbean
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing Strategies and Plans, Long-Term Strategies
Barriers overcome 
Capacity, Economic
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Resources Institute (WRI)
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