Opportunities of Green Hydrogen in La Guajira, Colombia

By February 12, 2024 6   min read  (1150 words)

February 12, 2024 |


The German Cooperation Agency GIZ, together with the Ministry of Mines and Energy, has presented the study entitled “Identification of Green H2 Hubs in Colombia,” as part of the implementation of the projects “Contribution to Green Hydrogen in Colombia” and “International Power-to-X Hub (PtX Hub).” This study aims to identify potential regions in Colombia for establishing green hydrogen hubs that present favorable conditions for the initial development of this economy.

In this sense, 6 potential regions were identified for the establishment of green hydrogen hubs that present favorable conditions for the initial development of the hydrogen economy in the country. The identified regions were Cartagena, Barranquilla, Valle del Cauca, the surroundings of Medellín and the south of Antioquia, Manizales (Caldas), and La Guajira with a conditional hub. It is worth noting, as the study establishes, that hydrogen hubs are effective tools for implementing a hydrogen economy by allowing direct connection between supply and demand, as well as the use of transportation, storage, and distribution infrastructure.

The study suggests that the hubs in Cartagena and Barranquilla would present optimal conditions for the development of blending projects, green hydrogen production, and ammonia at a commercial scale due to the industrial demand in both regions (Ecopetrol in Cartagena for the refinery and ammonia for Yara, and in Barranquilla for Monómeros). The hub in Valle del Cauca would leverage renewable resources such as residual biomass from sugarcane crops. Similarly, the industrial zone of Yumbo allows for boosting local demand for green hydrogen and derivatives such as methane. The Medellín hub and surrounding areas in Antioquia would cater to national demand due to the potential of available solar, hydraulic, and biomass renewable energy, along with the appropriate infrastructure in place. The Manizales hub (Caldas) aims to meet limited local demand and utilize available renewable resources, including residual biomass, benefiting from a good regional infrastructure of roadways for derivative distribution.

The conditioned hub in La Guajira aims to leverage the potential surplus of wind and solar energy in the region to achieve highly competitive production costs. In this regard, the study suggests that it could position itself as an ammonia exporting hub, thanks to the available port infrastructure. They also highlight that the focus of this hub should be on achieving regional social development through its implementation, which requires close cooperation with communities to adopt solutions that allow them to benefit from the projects. Additionally, they emphasize that meeting sustainability criteria in La Guajira would present the opportunity to implement the Hydrogen Valley of the Colombian Caribbean, consisting of Cartagena, Barranquilla, and La Guajira.

It is worth noting that one of the regions with the greatest potential for the production of green hydrogen at competitive costs, according to the study, is the Caribbean region. It is proposed that the deployment of a national green hydrogen economy will have to strategically emphasize this region. In this sense, La Guajira offers the best levelized cost of hydrogen production, starting in 2022 at 2.58 USD/kg (wind) and 5.51 USD/kg (photovoltaic solar), decreasing by the year 2050 to 0.96 USD/kg (wind) and 0.76 USD/kg (photovoltaic solar).

In La Guajira, the hydrogen hub in relation to solar energy would have a potential of 95 GW with a capacity factor of 20% and the highest solar irradiation index with a value of 6.5 kWh/m2. Regarding onshore wind energy, the potential ranges between 35 GW (Pinilla), 39.3 GW (Carvajal), and 43 GW (García), with an offshore potential of 50 GW according to the offshore wind energy roadmap, with an average capacity factor of up to 77% (Uribia). The potential from biomass waste is 1400 TJ/year with corn, 9.5 TJ/year with the poultry sector, 888 TJ/year with banana plantations, 27 TJ/year with palm oil, 310 TJ/year with rice, and 11 TJ/year with sugarcane. Regarding available water resources, the region has a shortage of fresh water but has access to saline water, along a coastal extension of approximately 450 km. In terms of land availability, there are 1,843,079 hectares considering floodable areas, protected areas, and those close to geological faults.

The study proposes that the potential establishment opportunities for green hydrogen demand in La Guajira could include: PTX product hub for exportation, preferably ammonia due to the technical ease and economic viability of obtaining nitrogen also from renewable electricity, an initiative that could be complemented for fertilizer production in the region to reclaim soils and make them productive for food production; Blending of green H2 and natural gas or production of synthetic natural gas (Power to Gas) to supply gas pipelines that carry gas to the Atlantic coast and inland, and Blending or transportation of pure hydrogen to the petrochemical complex in Maracaibo.

On this particular matter, we can say that the development of this industry in La Guajira has good prospects for generating a significant number of jobs. The exact figure will depend on various factors, including the size and scope of production projects, as well as the technology and methods employed. We can anticipate that job creation will be fostered in areas such as engineering, construction, operation and maintenance of production plants, transportation and logistics, as well as research and development of new hydrogen-related technologies. In addition to its direct benefits, the establishment of this industry could help diversify the local economy, generating positive impacts on job creation in other sectors such as tourism and agriculture.

In general terms, the study highlights promising opportunities associated with the development of a green hydrogen industry in Colombia. In this context, La Guajira emerges as a region with significant potential to integrate into the Caribbean Colombian Hydrogen Valley. In order to avoid falling behind, it is essential to raise our voice and clearly express our intention as a territory to become a hydrogen hub. Achieving this objective requires joint and planned efforts, led by authorities, institutions, and local leaders. Time is of the essence, and as a chamber of commerce, we invite you to begin this endeavor now.

Simultaneously, and as indicated by the study, it is crucial to undertake actions aimed at addressing territorial issues that often hinder or slow down projects, especially due to community resistance or rejection. In this regard, and in line with what has been mentioned, it is essential to consider implementing a strategy that facilitates direct dialogue with citizens, promoting their participation and integration in all stages of the project. It is crucial to ensure that such participation is effective, strengthening their empowerment.

Similarly, it is imperative to ensure that they directly benefit from the implementation of projects that improve access to essential public services, such as electricity and water. At the same time, it is also necessary to promote job creation by establishing productive linkages, providing seed capital to support the formation of new enterprises, and offering training to enhance skills.


SOURCE: Guajira Grafica

Original article in Spanish:

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