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Colombia struggles with solar power

Reporter: Michelle Begue 丨 CCTV.com

05-03-2016 17:06 BJT

Most of Colombia's energy comes from hydroelectric plants. But Colombia's energy source has been challenged as a result of El Nino. Some energy experts are wondering why Colombia doesn't tap into other alternative sources such as solar energy.

The Ramon Jimeno School in Bogot is green thanks to 148 solar energy panels installed a year ago. The school is not only energy efficient, but in summer months, it gives electricity to the city's electric company. The cost to the school was about 200,000 dollars, but the company which installed the panels says these renewable energy sources must be seen as an investment.

"If we purchase solar energy, this is an investment because say it takes you up to 10 years to pay off the panels, but you have 10 or 15 more years of free energy," said Diego Diaz, executive director of GAIAG. 

The school is one of several buildings in Bogot looking at solar energy as Colombia faces potential blackouts due to a shortage of electricity.

70 percent of Colombia's electricity is generated by hydroelectric plants. As a result of El Nino and an intense drought for months, experts say Colombia is now seeing the negative effects of not diversifying their energy sources earlier.

"We are seeing that climate change is a reality, and our energy security is being affected. There is a lot of uncertainty and risk involved because Colombia has merged its electricity source," said Andres Angel, geologist & energy consultant.

Alternative technology such as solar and wind energy account for just one percent of Colombia's energy source, according the Association of Colombia's Electricity Generators. The industry says the government needs to support companies and people who want to make the change to alternative clean energy sources such as solar panels.

Diego said, "really, there aren't many incentives. For example, fossil fuel gets incentives for production. Companies get money to come and extract. The alternative renewable energy here has no incentive, and the electric companies purchase the energy that we generate, at half the price of what they sell."

The 450 students of Ramon Jimeno school say they have learned first hand the benefits of being energy efficient.

"Not only are we saving energy, we are also giving back electricity to Codenza which distributes it through its electric grid," said Daniel Rey, student of Ramon Jimeno School.

This future generation may just be what Colombia needs to look at alternative methods of energy.

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