Oct. 15, 2021


Rubén Borja

Colombia

Rubén Borja

Country Manager, Trina Solar

Trina Solar is a global leader in the production of photovoltaic panels and has invested heavily in Colombia since 2019.

BIO

Rubén Borja is a professional with more than 10 years of experience in the energy sector working in multiple roles in EPC, international business development, structure finance, M&A, and PPA origination.


What role does Trina Solar want in Colombia?

Trina Solar started its activities in Colombia in 2018. At the time, we had a clear idea of what we wanted to do in the market; be a key player and help energize the market. It was a nascent market at that time, so we knew it was the right time to enter the country with an aggressive but sustainable long-term strategy. Regarding the role we want to play, we want to help build the market and contribute to a more liquid market for PPA contracts, either through partnerships or by participating in tenders. Trina Solar participated in the past auction, the second one, and was awarded three projects. We want to remain leaders in Colombia.

To what do you attribute your success in the three government contracts?

The reason behind winning the contracts is that we are vertically integrated. Trina is a module manufacturer, always vying for first place in production volume of photovoltaic modules. We belong to another business unit under the Trina umbrella, and our objective is to develop solar integral solutions. When we saw the opportunity of the auction, we were committed to win. We know the market globally, and we develop all our own technology, so we have the visibility and capacity of the technology combined with the knowledge of the market by the local team and the determination to win. We could bring competitive prices to the auction, and we were not the cheapest ones. We had a great deal of know-how as well in understanding every single aspect of the mechanism.

Which government policies encourage photovoltaic energy production in Colombia?

Law 1715 is one of the drivers of this renewables boom. It was established in 2014-2015, and the Duque presidency took it to another level. It resolved some doubts and uncertainties that the market had about this law. The tax benefits were a huge motivation for many new players to come in and develop the renewables market. Minister of Energy and Mining Diego Mesa and the current government kept pushing for renewables by introducing the National Development Plan (PND) to include more incentives for renewables.

What is the potential of solar energy for Colombian electricity?

Colombia is attractive because there are many regions where we can develop successful projects. This is positive because then everyone is not fighting for land in just one area, so it helps with the diversification of prices and Colombia can have different developments in various locations. One of the things Colombia needs to improve is the energy transmission capacity, which it is in the process of doing. The government has a plan for transmission and generation every 10 years, and it is always planning the expansion of the energy matrix and new infrastructure. If you added energy storage, there would be a better mix, because it allows companies to distribute energy without having to wait to build new conventional infrastructure.

How would you characterize the relationship between Trina Solar and Colombia, and where do you see the company going forward?

Our complete Latin American pipeline of projects amounts to 1GW, and Colombia represents practically 50% of that. This includes the three tenders, and the projects in Los Llanos that we already built, as well as two more projects in Los Llanos that we are about to start construction. They will be at commercial operation by the end of the year or early 2022. Our strategy for Latam is to be an important player in strategic markets. We seized the opportunity of a promising market in Colombia. The existing projects are located in Puerto Gaitan, and President Duque joined us for the inauguration of the Llanos 2 project. In 2019, the minister and vice minister also joined us to inaugurate Llanos 1. We are about to start the construction of Llanos 4 and Llanos 5, and we plan to finish these plans by January 2022.

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