Report: Evaluation of Isolated Photovoltaic Systems and Their Sustainability Models

This document presents the analysis of primary and secondary information of the photovoltaic energy projects for rural areas electrification in Colombia.

The information was obtained through interviews to the different stakeholders who work in the solar electrification in NIZ (Non-interconnected Zones) of Colombia. A comparative study of the international projects selected- all of them in Latin America- was made.

The results are showed as lessons learned, with a SWOT study representing the current situation of rural electrification with PV technology as perceived, and describing the opportunities for improvement based on the successful experiences in the region.

Executive summary (English PDF)

Final report (Spanish PDF)

Lastly, a series of guidelines are proposed to support those public policies that foster access to energy in the rural non-interconnected areas of Colombia.

Rural electrification in NIZ is implemented mainly through three energy solutions: stand-alone photovoltaic systems, mini grids with diesel generator sets and hybrid mini-grids.

Stand-alone photovoltaic systems are the preferred solution for the widely dispersed population. Nowadays, more than 13,000 users have one of these systems, with an installed power capacity higher than 500 Wp. Additionally, it is estimated that, in the rest of the year, about 4,821 new units will be operational.

As for hybrid mini-grids, this has been the preferred solution for the islands. These grids are comprised of generating units, distribution networks, a photovoltaic generator, inverters and a battery bank to store energy.

The consulting team has evaluated six case studies. For this purpose, local leaders, users and installation companies, among other stakeholders were contacted.

The case studies about stand-alone photovoltaic systems in NIZ are located in Acandí, in the Chocó region, in Aguachica, in the César region and in Cartagena del Chiará, in the Caquetá region. The cases about hybrids mini-grids are those of Isla Fuerte, El Islote and Isla Múcura, which belong to the municipality of Cartagena, in the Bolivar region.

Based on the interviews with local stakeholders and government officials for rural electrification in NIZ and on the review of secondary information, a separate SWOT analysis reflecting the particularities of both contexts has been made.

The analysis examines the following aspects: management, technical, environmental, socio-economic and gender-based aspects, and impact of the project.

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