Risk Management in Small Hydroelectric Power Plants (SHPPs) in Colombia

Risk Management in Small Hydroelectric Power Plants (SHPPs) in Colombia

Gustavo Alberto Villamarin (Universidad del Rosario, Colombia) and Flor Nancy Díaz-Piraquive (Universidad Catolica de Colombia, Colombia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1934-9.ch009


Although Colombia has more than 50 years of experience developing hydropower projects, the recent Hidroituango project crisis has opened the debate regarding risk management (RM) in generation power projects, especially for non-conventional renewable energy sources (NCRES) where there are no academic studies for Colombian case. This chapter develops a methodological proposal based on PMBOK, ISO standard, and Colombian technical standards, that will allow identification, assessment, and management of the risks inherent in small hydroelectric power plant (SHPP) projects. All this in the context of the opportunities generated by Law 1715 of 2014 and the mega global trend of transition from fossil sources of energy to NCRES. The methodology was built based on: a state of the art review, an expert's knowledge consultation, and a Delphi expert's assessment analysis. The result is a project risk management methodology that includes: holistic identification of risk variables in SHPP projects, assessment of experts and response to inherent and residual risks.
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United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, stated on its 7th goal, that sustainable energy development is an opportunity to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for needed people living on developing countries (Kates, Parris, & Leiserowitz, 2016). The increase in the use of fossil fuels combined with the increase in the global population has caused that earth resources are getting closer to a dangerous point of no return for life as known, which is recognized as one of the social problems of our time by key scientists, politicians and religious leaders at a global level. Citing the top leader of the Catholic church: “There are not just two separate crises, an environmental and a social one, but just one and complex socio-environmental crisis” (Pope Francis, 2015). The effect of the abuse of fossil fuels on the environment is devastating. The most frightening aspect is the fact that in recent decades of this new century, the consumption of fossil fuels has increased. This has contributed to the emission of greenhouse gases and the release of pollutants in the atmosphere that has serious consequences, including global warming. Therefore, it is necessary to protect planet Earth through the incorporation of renewable energy sources, which are respectful to the environment.

In the local Colombian context, factors such as: energy sovereignty, the phenomenon of “El Niño” (Collins, An, & Cai, 2010; Cai & Borlace, 2014; Hoyos, Escobar, Restrepo, Arango, & Ortiz, 2013), the exhaustion of energy fossil fuels, and specifically the dramatic decrease of natural gas reserves (Mining and Energy Planning Unit of Colombia; UPME, 2016a). As well as to meet the commitments made by Colombia at the Paris Climate Change Summit(García Arbeláez, Barrera, Gómez, & Suárez Castaño, 2015), which are comparable with those of other countries in the region and that sets forth the 20% reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; the country shall promote the use of NCRES (Gualteros & Hurtado, 2013), as well as a more efficient energy management (Mining and Energy Planning Unit of Colombia; UPME, 2016b) (UPME, 2015) & (Pardo Martínez & Alfonso Piña, 2015). Project development of NCRES in Colombia has been leveraged by Law (LEY 1715, 2014), pursuant to which the integration of non-conventional energies (geothermal, wind, solar, biomass and SHPPs) in the National Energy System (SEN) is encouraged. This law has two objectives: a) to promote the development of non-conventional energy sources, integrating them to the national energy system, and b) to promote energy solutions to rural and isolated areas of the country. All efforts coordinated between academia, and the electricity industry to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of NCRES and particularly in the SHPP projects, its integration into the National Energy System are in line with the National Government's energy sovereignty objectives (Departamento Nacional De Planeación (DNP), 2017; Consorcio Energético CORPOEMA, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

NCRES: Non-Conventional Renewable Energy Sources also known as new renewable energy sources (wind, biomass, geothermal, solar and SHPPs). FNCE for its acronym in Spanish.

Environmental Crises: an ecological emergency, disaster or calamity that occurs when changes to the conditions of a species or population destabilizes its continued survival.

IRENA: International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.

UPME: Mining and Energy Planning Unit of Colombia is the special administrative/technical unit responsible for the sustainable development of the country's mining and energy sector. It is Dependent on the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

IDEAM: Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies of Colombia is a government agency of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia. It is in charge of producing and managing the scientific and technical information on the environment of Colombia.

SEN: National Energy System of Colombia.

Global Warming: is the long-term rise in the average temperature of the planet Earth's climate system. It has been demonstrated by direct temperature measurements.

SHPP: Small Hydro Power Plant refers to hydroelectric power plants below 10MW installed capacity by gravitational force of falling or flowing water without a dam: PCHs for its acronym in Spanish.

COLCIENCIAS: Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation of Colombia. It promotes the policies to foster R&D in Colombia.

NTC5254: Colombian technical standard for risk management.

Renewable Energy: is a method of energy production that does not exhaust resources for its energy generation because it uses resources that can be renewed continually. I.E: geothermal, wind, solar, biomass and Hydrogeneration

CORPOEMA: It is a Colombian initiative to promote energy efficiency and the sustainable use of natural resources in all economic activities.

LEY 1715 of 2014: Colombian law that regulates NCRES. This law promotes the development and use of non-conventional energy sources (especially those from renewable sources), in the national energy system.

DNP: Planning National Agency in Colombia is an agency within the Government of Colombia in charge of defining, recommending and promoting public and economic planning.

Fossil Fuels: buried combustible geologic deposits of organic materials, formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the earth's crust over hundreds of millions of years.

ICONTEC: Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification is a non-profit private Colombian organization member of the International Organization for Standardization ISO that oversees the compliance of national and international standards.

Sin: National Interconnected System of Colombia. The electricity supply in Colombia is based on the National Interconnected System (SIN) and several isolated local systems in the non-interconnected areas (ZNI). The Sin system comprises one third of the territory, which provides coverage to 96 percent of the population.

Sustainable Energy: is a mindset of energy production without putting in danger natural resources getting them expired or depleted and can be used over and over again. It does not include any sources that are derived from fossil fuels or waste products.

Phenomenon of “El Niño”: is a weather phenomenon caused when warm water from the western Pacific Ocean flows eastward. In South America, there is a drastic increase in the risk of flooding on the western coast, while there is an increase in the risk of droughts on parts of the eastern coast.

Greenhouse Effect: is a warming of Earth's surface and the air above it. It is caused by gases in the air that trap energy from the Sun. These heat-trapping gases are called greenhouse gases. The most common greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane.

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