RGA Engineering y Projects

Reality of Renewable Energies in Venezuela

Renewable resources are those whose nature is considered infinite and inexhaustible. Among the best-known energy sources that are classified in this line are solar energy, wind (wind), hydraulics and biomass. The interest that these sources have aroused in recent years has two origins: environmental and economic. The first, climate change, a global phenomenon produced by the modification of the composition of the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels (natural gas, coal and oil) and the second, the economic one, due to the forecast of the depletion of these fuels and hence the coming energy crisis.

Renewable energy sources have been used by humanity throughout its history for various activities. With the discovery of electricity, technological development relied on fossil fuels because they were more economical to exploit and renewable energies were relegated to the background and, since then, interest has been focused on how to produce electricity using these sources. , with the exception of hydraulics, which was easily adapted for this purpose and positioned itself as the quintessential renewable energy resource of the 20th century. Its momentum was so great that almost all of the world’s hydraulic potential is already being exploited.

It is important to highlight that all energy sources, renewable and non-renewable, generate an environmental footprint and emit greenhouse gases (GHG). Such emission can be divided into two major moments: during the construction of the plants and their operation. The difference between the so-called “green energies” , which include solar, wind, hydraulic and nuclear, and the fossil ones lies in the fact that the former do not emit gases during their operation. It should be noted that biomass is considered a form of green energy since, although it emits gases during its operation, its emission-absorption balance is neutral.

Despite the great momentum that renewable technologies have today, only 3% of the world’s electricity is produced by solar, wind, geothermal and heat, and by 2030 this value is expected to reach 11.8%. ( IEA 2010 Key World Energy Statistics).The root of the problem with climate change lies in the fact that we are in the presence of an environmental situation whose approach is being considered from the economic perspective since, as a society, what we are looking for is how to continue supplying our growing energy requirements, especially in electricity. and transport, but no longer with fossil sources, but other cleaner ones. It is as if we wanted to simply unplug the plug from the oil rig and plug it into the green outlet. Unfortunately, this problem is not as simple as changing the provider, it requires a significant change in the consumption pattern for these measures to be effective.

The entire situation described above is observed in Venezuela from a rather particular perspective. Being an energy country par excellence, the inhabitants are unaware of the irrational use we make of our resources, and this is reflected in consumption habits, associated with the practically free nature of energy. However, this wealth has enabled the installation of heavy industries such as iron, steel, aluminum, among others, which, thanks to the hydroelectric potential, which generates about 70% of national consumption, have been able to motorize without GHG emissions, like in other countries.

In addition to this, 2012 was the best year in the modern history of Venezuela in terms of alternative energy, since two wind farms located in the most resource-rich areas of the country were put into operation: La Guajira and Paraguaná, delivering 25 and 30 megawatts to the National Electric System, respectively, of clean energy without GHG emissions, which means the materialization of what is established in the Simón Bolívar Nation Plan (2007-2013); However, under a state-owned sector, the possibility of growth depends solely on the State’s resource capacity and the participation of independent promoters who promote, among other things, research and development of local technology is limited.

Technically speaking, Venezuela is highly dependent on satellite weather databases, whose resolution and precision may be acceptable for small capacity facilities but not for industrial systems. It is necessary to prepare maps that quantify wind, solar, geothermal resources, etc. reliably and accurately. This would make it possible to know for sure the energy potential of these sources in different parts of the country, in order to structure planning and, with it, development and promotion policies. Some of these maps are currently in the information gathering stage, although their scope (national, local or regional) is unknown.

From a business point of view, the number of companies founded in the renewable sector are mere companies that sell and install this type of technology. These have tripled their number in the last 5 years as a consequence of what was proposed in the Simón Bolívar Plan and the electrical crisis of 2009. The most commonly seen projects are those associated with the electrification of billboards with solar energy, as well as the installation of public lighting poles with this energy. It is necessary to emphasize that the cost of solar-powered public lighting should be considered in areas where it is difficult to place a pole connected to the electricity grid (conventional way). Now it is common to see solar poles next to conventional ones, even turned on at the same time,

In conclusion, renewable energies are an alternative for solving the global energy and environmental crisis, understanding that they must be accompanied by a group of important social behavioral changes that focus priority on low consumption, the use of local resources and its reuse. In Venezuela, these technologies are here to stay from a political, legal and commercial point of view, but with this perspective we begin a new stage in which investment must be made rationally, supporting technologies that really allow national development, this leveraged in the research and development of autochthonous technologies, based on the possible commercial application and without waste of resources.

Published in:  CONTACTOS Magazine of the Venezuelan-German Chamber of Commerce (CAVENAL), Edition III, 2013, pp. 8-9

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