Colombia’s Energy and Mining Planning Unit (UPME in Spanish), whose mandate is to supply electricity and ensure efficient, safe and reliable operational services across the nation, awarded an electric energy transmission project known as the 500 kV Southwest Reinforcement Project to Grupo Energía Bogotá S.A. ESP (GEB), a multinational leader in the gas and energy sector. In late 2017, GEB commissioned WSP in Colombia to complete two mandates: detailed design for high voltage transmission lines and environmental impact studies (EIS) required for the environmental licences.
Transporting Renewable Energy
The inception of the project stems from Colombia’s plan to provide electric energy from the Ituango hydropower plant to the southwestern part of Colombia through La Virginia, thereby minimizing the need of energy based thermal sources. Estimated at about US$ 330 million in total, the 500 kV Southwest Reinforcement Project aims specifically to provide hydropower throughout the interconnected system to decrease power outage, network fatigue and service suspension constraints generated by overloads. The project also seeks to improve the safety, delivery and reliability of the Colombian power grid, and the quality of life of more than 12 million people.
Starting at the Medellín substation and extending south to the Alférez substation, the Southwest Reinforcement project comprises upgrades to substations and transmission lines to remove vulnerabilities and strengthen the transmission network capacity of electricity across the southwest and central regions of Colombia—Direct Areas of Influence—namely in the departments of Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca. The project encompasses the construction of a substation and related modules, the installation of two transformers each with a 450 MVA capacity as well as the construction of three 500 kV transmission lines with double circuit structures and one single circuit mounted, necessary feature in a future expansion that minimizes the environmental impact and the cost of easements. and a 230 kV double circuit line.