Colombia has started the process of developing its first geothermal project with a $2.7m grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) administered by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Colombia currently obtains 70 per cent of its electricity from hydropower. The IDB is encouraging countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to develop new low-carbon energy sources.

ISAGEN, a Colombian public-private utility, will examine the technical, environmental and social aspects to evaluate the geothermal potential in the Macizo Volcanico del Ruiz in Colombia’s central mountain range. Depending on the results of the survey and subsequent exploratory drilling, ISAGEN may build a 50 MW geothermal plant. GEF resources will be used to develop a suitable financial structure for construction of the power plant.

Another goal of the project is to assess the potential of non-hydropower renewable energy in Colombia. INGEOMINAS, Colombia’s geology and mining institute, and the National University of Colombia are participating in the technical assessment of potential geothermal sites.

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