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Colombia faces hydroelectric crisis due to El Niño phenomenon
Monday, April 1, 2024 - 11:15
Hidroeléctrica Colombia. Foto: Enel.

Through a letter sent to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, XM, operator of the Interconnected System and administrator of the Wholesale Energy Market of Colombia, warns that if a series of recommendations are not adopted, the country could enter a period of rationing energy while the intensity of the rains returns.

The impacts of the El Niño phenomenon in Colombia (which has already entered its final stretch) continue to generate concern in the country's energy generation because, it must be remembered, the bulk of this depends on the good levels in the reservoirs that move the hydroelectric.

Given this panorama, historical), and describing a series of recommendations that would help guarantee the country the stability of supply, while the El Niño phenomenon is overcome.

“We have been informing and giving risk signals about the current operation to meet the demand in a reliable, safe and economical manner,” the letter reads.

For XM, the following are the aspects that are affecting the operation of the National Interconnected System (SIN), and that could put the supply of electricity demand in the country at risk:

To date, the demand for electrical energy presents a growth of 8.31% compared to the same days of the month of the immediately previous year. Furthermore, during some days in March the demand has been above the average demand scenario published by UPME (Mining and Energy Planning Unit) in its January 2024 update.

In monitoring the contributions, it is highlighted that the water contributions registered in March remain below historical minimums, at 45.37% of the historical average, that is, 69.96 GWh/day.

The aggregate reservoir of the System is at 31.86% of the useful volume usable to produce electrical energy, registering values lower than the historical minimums of the last 20 years for March, and without starting April we are 0.05 percentage points above the minimum April 2020 history.

At the regional level, the reserves are reflected 49.25% in the Central region, 34.93% in Antioquia, 8.25% in the East and the remaining percentage in the Valley and the Caribbean. At the reservoir level, it is striking that the useful volume of the system's aggregate reservoir is concentrated in the Peñol and Bogotá aggregate reservoirs, at 26.8% and 39.4%, respectively, and some of the main reservoirs in the country. They begin to register historical lows such as El Peñol with 35.93%, Guavio with 5.8%, El Quimbo with 19.45% and Ríogrande 2 with 7.37%.

Regarding the operation of some reservoirs, agents have reported new restrictions, such as those indicated by EPM in the framework of CNO meeting No. 740 on March 26, 2024 on the probability of not having generation availability when the reservoir is below 5% due to water purification issues for the aqueduct and the impact that this would have on the Porce II and Porce III plants because they are downstream. Likewise, what was reported by ENEL for the PAGUA chain related to the maximum discharges from Tominé and the impact they may have when the Muña reservoir is below 70% due to sediment issues.

Furthermore, in the operation of the system, a decrease has been evident in the declaration of availability of agents for some hydroelectric generation plants such as Betania, Chivor, El Quimbo, Guavio, Ituango, Miel, Sogamoso and Urrá.

And finally, in the month of March the average thermal generation has been 89 GWh/day, however, the actual thermal generation is around 36 GWh/day below the availability declared in the dispatch and 51 GWh/day average below its net effective capacity.

The average exports to Ecuador in March have been 3.77 GWh/day average. On some days in March exports have been above 5 GWh/day and this situation is expected to continue at least until the second week of April, as reported by CENACE (National Energy Control Center of Ecuador).

Regarding this, for SIN in periods of maximum demand.

To avoid such scenarios, XM recommends implementing measures such as:

Savings campaigns, which include intensifying work at home (saving lighting and air conditioners), in those where it is not possible to turn off the lighting at night.

Reduce energy exports to Ecuador. This measure will reduce the number of operating hours of thermal plants and delay their release for maintenance, as well as efficient use of scarce primary sources to meet national demand.

Define a thermal generation goal. From a reference according to the conditions of the system (Contributions, demand, generation), so that it is programmed in the economic dispatch. Currently, short-term energy analyzes suggest that a thermal goal above 110 GWh-day is required.

Make as much gas as possible available to the thermal generating park.

Take measures to ensure the supply, transportation and storage of fuels required for the continuous operation of the entire thermal park.

Enable the connection of solar self-generation projects without delivery of surpluses connected to the STN and STR that are capable of delivering energy immediately, for example, Drummond, Reficar and Cira Infantas, with the aim of reducing the demand of these industries .

Enable the delivery of the surpluses reported by UPME at the CACSSE meeting on March 22 (Approximately 500 MW).

Management and monitoring with generating agents, as follows: Hydraulic plants, close monitoring of the evolution of reservoirs, lifting of restrictions and management of reservoirs. Those plants with great regulation capacity should be contributing the maximum amount of energy possible to the system; of thermal plants, availability monitoring, maintenance and fuel management and logistics; From solar plants, providing the maximum amount of energy possible to the system.

Monitoring compliance with the power and capacity to cover the security of the system.

Monitor reservoirs with low levels that may compromise their availability.

According to the power analysis and electrical safety coverage of the system, carry out monitoring to determine the need to adopt additional measures to ensure the demand for electrical energy is met in the operation of the system.

Guarantee the free mobility of people, supplies and equipment, as well as free access to the facilities of the electrical sector (substations and power plants), to those for the production and transportation of primary energy.

And finally, carry out negotiations with the ANLA (National Environmental License Authority) and Minambiente to temporarily relax the rules imposed on Ituango and other plants in the system so that generation can be dispatched where the system requires it due to power requirements.

For XM, the adoption of these measures will allow managing the operational risks that arise from the current energy condition, which is why they are not considered sufficient in the event of possible extreme situations or high-impact events that may also affect the operation of the SIN.



El Espectador