Produce & Renew
What are the primary strengths of Ecuador's energy matrix?
Ecuador has remarkable hydroelectric resources, which are of primary importance for the national matrix. The other energy resource is gas; either LPG or the natural gas from the coasts of Ecuador, Peru, or Monteverde. Fuel oil will be substituted by that gas and the energy produced by hydroelectric power. Meanwhile, another component of the energy mix is geothermal power.
Do you see much potential for geothermal power in Ecuador?
Definitely, and in fact the company is considering geothermal energy and has already initiated studies that have identified a number of prospects. CELEC EP is focusing its efforts on the development of four specific prospects, one located on the border with Colombia, and we expect to establish facilities with a total capacity of over 500 MW. This will bring us closer in scale to some of the largest geothermal power producers. In El Salvador for example, geothermal power represents 25% of total electricity production. We intend for geothermal power to meet around 10% of Ecuador's requirements.
When we met with the Minister of Electricity he stated that Ecuador's goal was to raise the renewable energy component in total power production to 93% by 2016. What strategies are in place to achieve this goal?
These are the numbers for hydro energy, and to date, there are eight hydroelectric projects in operation. CELEC EP has seven of them, and Coca has one. The total capacity of these projects exceeds domestic demand. We may be able to export this energy as a result. Currently, we are making arrangements for other projects. For example, the largest current project is the Coca Codo Sinclair Hydroelectric Project, with a planned capacity of 1,500 MW. We are now making arrangements for another hydroelectric project with even more impressive capacity of 6,000 MW. We have two projects in Zamora and Santiago, one at 3,600 MW and the other at 2,400 MW. In 2015, we will start the construction process, and when we talk about capacity, it is important to note that hydroelectric energy is not stationary, but variable. Sometimes, we may need to produce a certain amount of power by gas, or to import power from Peru or Colombia. We may be able to export power, but the fundamental idea is not to use oil to produce power.
What contribution is CELEC EP making toward achieving energy independence?
CELEC EP is an executive arm of the government. The minister decides on the policies to be implemented by the sector and on the timeframe, and CELEC EP works to achieve these. We set up, operate and, eventually, contract private companies. For example, in Mexico, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) is the only company in the country holding complete control of the generation, transmission, and distribution of power. However, CFE contracts quite a few private companies for the construction of its facilities and operations. CELEC EP utilizes a similar business model in the execution of these objectives. It is important to understand that the production and energy matrices are part of the same system. Within the productive matrix is the energy matrix, and within that is the electricity matrix, while within that in turn is hydroelectric power. When we say that we are increasing hydroelectric power to 93% of the total, it should be understood within this framework. If the productive matrix grows, and the energy and electricity matrices grow in turn, then 93% is proportionally greater than what it was before. We need to increase the share of electricity generation in the entire energy sector from 15% to 40%, which means cutting down on the share of energy required for transportation. Currently, the share used in the transportation sector is about 75% of total energy production.