Smart Wires and EPM complete project unlocking 400 megawatts of grid capacity for renewables in Colombia
Jan 26, 2023
Smart Wires and EPM today announced the successful completion of a large-scale project that uses digital power flow control – SmartValve™ – to enable the connection of over 400 megawatts of distributed renewable generation. This supports demand growth in Medellín and the surrounding Antioquia region, and helps to reduce electricity tariffs for consumers.
As in many countries, Colombia also faces difficulties in the construction of critical transmission infrastructure, slowing economic growth, increasing electricity consumption bills, and generating the risk of possible electricity supply interruptions in the coming years. This is happening in parallel with Colombia’s plans to substantially increase its renewable generation connections.
“We are committed to providing reliable access to clean electricity to consumers at an efficient cost, and to playing our part in the energy transition,” said Andrés Moreno Múnera, Vice President Transmission and Distribution of Energy at EPM. “Technologies like this help us solve grid congestion and maximize the use of our existing grid, reducing, in some cases, the need for new infrastructure,” he added.
Building on the successful SmartValve pilot project in 2021, which was the first installation of this technology in Latin America and paved the way for its use across the region, this project involves using SmartValves on three transmission lines in the Aburrá Valley metropolitan area to solve grid congestion, both in normal operation and in contingency scenarios (N-1). It unlocks grid capacity for over 400 megawatts of distributed hydro and solar generation to connect, and supports the expected growth in electricity demand.
“We are proud to work closely with EPM on this project, which offers a cost-effective solution to grid congestion that can be easily expanded as system needs change over time,” said Joaquín Peirano, General Manager, Americas at Smart Wires. “Colombia is a leader in the use of grid optimization technologies such as SmartValve to improve access to clean, affordable and reliable electricity, which is one of the many reasons we established our Latin American base in Medellín,” he added.
SmartValve works by pushing power off overloaded lines or pulling power onto underutilized lines, and also provides dynamic services such as improving transient stability and voltage stability. Unlike other alternative network planning solutions, this capacity is unlocked quicker and without disruption to local communities or the environment as SmartValves can be deployed within the existing substation or along existing transmission corridors.
SmartValve – a distributed FACTS technology – has been in use in Colombia since 2021 with multiple projects providing hundreds of megawatts (MW) of grid capacity and keeping the cost of electricity tariffs affordable for consumers. There are many more projects planned for the coming years as part of Colombia’s 2020-2034 Transmission Expansion Plan, published by the Unidad de Planeación Minero-Energética (UPME).
EPM Group is a multi-Latin group with presence in six countries: Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Panama. The Organization, which serves more than 20 million people, provides water supply services, wastewater management, generation, distribution, commercialization and transmission of energy, natural gas commercialization, seawater purification and solid waste management.