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martes, 22 de septiembre 2020
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How to make the most of the region’s renewable resources

By Stiven Arias Henao and Juan Diego Restrepo Toro – Communications Office

With an impact in 11 departments, the Energy Sustainability for Colombia alliance (abbreviated SÉNECA) aims to achieve a more efficient use of energy and to diversify the energy offer of the country through the development and adaptation of new sustainable technologies based on renewable sources: solar, small-scale hydraulic, hydrokinetics, agroenergy, wind power, or synthetic natural gas.

Photo: Panel located on the roof of UdeA’s University Research Headquarters.

In Colombia, around 38% of primary energy is used in the transportation sector. According to Franklin Jaramillo Isaza, chief science officer of the SÉNECA alliance, approximately 95% of this sector depends on fossil fuels such as gas and diesel. “The problem is that the expectancy of the reserves tested doesn’t exceed the five years, which forces the import of these two fuels.”

Therefore, the SÉNECA alliance proposes to diversify power generation in Colombia through the use of non-conventional renewable energy sources, advances in energy storage, smart networks, and biomass reclaiming (ruminal content, pig manure, urban waste, and waste from cane harvesting).

Likewise, the alliance will work on the efficient use of energy through projects of clean transportation, energy integration, energy end use, and efficient use of conventional energy sources.

To achieve this, SÉNECA will conduct phenomenological research, develop technology, and transfer technology to the production sector in the two challenges identified by the Colombia Científica program: efficient energy use and source diversification.

For instance, Universidad de Pamplona leads the design, simulation, and construction of a wind generator prototype for low wind speed. According to Elkin Flórez, leader of the research group in Mechanical Engineer (abbreviated GIMUP), they seek to use biocomposite material based on Colombian natural fibers to develop this prototype.

The prototype will improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of areas such as Catatumbo, in Norte de Santander, Colombia, who have been affected by factors such as violence or exclusion caused by the distant geographical location from urban centers.


Some initiatives

- “Development of a power-to-gas system in the context of renewable and conventional energy sources in La Guajira”

This project will be led by the Group of Science and Technology of Gases and Rational Use of Energy, GASURE. Its purpose is to make the most of the electricity excess produced by renewable sources, such as solar or wind energy, turning it into hydrogen, which can be mixed with carbon dioxide—produced by carbon oxy-combustion. This will favor the proper use of this negative-impact chemical compound on the global greenhouse effect as well as the convergence of renewable and conventional energy sources.


- With the leadership of GASURE and the Group of Alternative Energy, abbreviated GEA in Spanish, another initiative will seek to assess the energy potential of the ruminal material derived from the processes of cattle slaughter in export meat processing plants.

This macro-project intends to use the energy potential of the grass waste that livestock ingested before slaughter. Technology will be developed to retrieve, treat, and use the material to obtain heat through combustion as a source of technical energy.


- “Improved production of synthetic natural gas from organic waste and industrial emissions of carbon dioxide through gasification and methanation reactions”

The purpose is to synthetically convert organic waste from agro-industrial waste and waste water plants into methane, i.e. natural gas, in combination with industrial carbon dioxide emissions.

The project will be led by the Group of Industrial Chemical Processes, abbreviated PQI in Spanish. The Group of Bioprocesses and the Group of Catalysts and Adsorbents will also take part. Luis Alberto Ríos, coordinator of the PQI states: “Colombia has a deficit in natural gas. Our goal is to supply part of the demand with this project.”


- “Economic and environmental assessment of reclaiming alternatives of the region’s renewable resources for power generation”

“This new model of analysis combines different tools and elements—states Juan Camilo Villegas, member of the Research Group in Engineering and Environmental Management (abbreviated GIGA in Spanish), which will lead the macro-project—. Our purpose is to conduct the best assessment to determine the environmental impact and the economic feasibility of the alternatives produced by the program and compare them to traditional alternatives of power generation in Colombia.”

Besides the GIGA, the Research Group in Environmental Management and Modeling (abbreviated GAIA in Spanish), the Research Group in Diagnosis and Control of Pollution (abbreviated GDCON in Spanish), and the Research Group in Applied Microeconomics will also take part in the project.


All the SÉNECA’s projects

1. Smart management and integration of renewable energy sources to favor energy sustainability.

2. Economic and environmental assessment of reclaiming alternatives of the region’s renewable resources for power generation.

3. Improved production of synthetic natural gas from organic waste and industrial emissions of carbon dioxide through gasification and methanation reactions.

4. Energy storage systems for intermittent generation sources based on secondary lithium-ion and hydrogen batteries.

5. Small-scale power generation using hydraulic and hydrokinetic turbines.

6. Strategies of dual gaseous and liquid fuel supply in semi-heavy vehicles of the Colombian transportation sector for the increase of energy efficiency and the reduction of pollutants.

7. Methodology for the planning, management, and operation of electric micro-networks adapted to the Colombian regional context, based on multi-purpose and multi-criterion analysis, under uncertainty and real-time conditions.

8. National development of cutting-edge photovoltaic solar technology and implementation of high performance systems for the Colombian climate conditions.

9. Energy assessment of urban and agro-industrial solid waste.

10. Assessment of densification processes of agricultural waste from sugar cane harvesting suitable for use as renewable energy source.

11. Adjustment, escalation, and assessment in conditions of production industrial processes of advanced combustion systems of high energy efficiency and low emissions.

12. Design, simulation, and construction of a wind generator prototype for low wind speed using biocomposite material based on Colombian natural fibers.

13. Development and evaluation of a technology package for the energy assessment of the ruminal content in export meat processing plants and municipal slaughterhouses.

14. Development of a power-to-gas system in the context of renewable and conventional energy sources available in La Guajira.

15. Implementation of an injection kit of hydrated ethanol to reduce the consumption of diesel and the polluting emissions in transportation systems and stationary applications.

SÉNECA’s purpose is to integrate these initiatives to find clean, renewable fuels that reduce polluting emissions and favor the partial replacement of fossil fuels.

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