Turbines of the new wind farm in La Guajira (Credit: César Nigrinis)

Colombia will have its first large-scale wind farm. The work began a few months ago with the arrival of the first turbines in the peninsula of La Guajira, the cornerstone of the country’s energy transition.

It is the “second wind energy project in the country, after Jepirachi”, sources from Colombia’s Ministry of Energy and Mines told DW. Colombia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Diego Mesa, published it on his Twitter account: 

Isagén’s Guajira I park, which is expected to come into operation before the end of 2021, will have a generation capacity of 20 megawatts (MW), which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of more than 33,000 Colombian families.

“The Caribbean Region is the backbone of such transition, proof of this is that 12 of the 14 projects awarded in the 2019 auction will be built in this region of the country,” said these sources, recalling that “the department of La Guajira has greater potential for wind projects, as this region has a wind speed higher than the world average.”

With the project, wind energy in Colombia will be 12%, when currently it represents 0.5%. From the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (INDEPAZ) of Colombia, Joanna Barney mentioned to DW that “for Colombia, the diversification of the energetic supply means greater reliability of the system, since if our water reserves drop, renewable energies would come in to support it”.

However, we cannot forget the social impacts that the project will cause, such as “the entry of outsiders to indigenous communities, the confrontation between communities for the supposed benefits and the displacement of communities due to the parks or the infrastructure that supports them,” according to Barney.

The indigenous community of the Wayuu inhabits the peninsula of La Guajira and problems have arisen regarding territorial ownership. Armando Custodio Wouriyu Valbuena, a Wayuu leader for 40 years, told DW that “the vital space of the Wayuu is air, sea and land space”.

They feel that “human rights are being violated”, as stated by another leader, and mention that “the company does not make the prior consultation as it should be done”, pointing to the lack of accurate information that causes the inhabitants to be forced to leave their homes.

“Economic reactivation must promote renewable energies since there are international climate commitments that require an urgent transition. However, this cannot ignore aspects such as the existence of indigenous communities in the territory, their uses and customs”, as stated by Karla Maas to DW, spokesperson for the Climate Action Network organization in Latin America, which advocates for a transformative and fair economic reactivation in the region.