Venezuela is a country blessed by its vast natural resources, being classified by many as the richest on the planet. Regarding energy systems, it is the nation with the largest proven oil reserves and the 8th in proven natural gas reserves 1, has the 3rd largest hydroelectric dam in the world (Guri), exorbitant amounts – and practically constant throughout the year – of solar radiation and wind. Additionally, it has the capacity to produce iron, aluminum, nickel, gold, diamonds, coffee, cocoa, livestock, sugar, rum, beer, and stop counting. In a few words, Venezuela is a country with the possibility of installing any type of industry it wishes, by having both the raw materials and the energy resources required for its motorization. Very few have that possibility…
Proposing a map of Venezuela with renewable energies in a country is a very complex process, since an extremely high number of factors to take into consideration are involved, such as: state of the art of technology, availability of the resource, existing energy infrastructure in the area, stability in generation, and current economic factors. I take as a starting point a work I did in 2009 -during my master’s studies at Simón Bolívar University- on a map proposal for solar generation in country 2 based on technical pre-feasibility.
Maps of Renewable Sources and Technologies
As previously stated, Venezuela has important sources of solar and wind resources, the first being practically constant throughout the year as a result of its proximity to Ecuador, while the second is considered “Supreme” because it receives trade winds in Falcón and the Guajira, and of the “Excellent” type in Sucre and Nueva Esparta 3 .
Since solar technology is the most complex due to its various forms of use, it is categorized below according to its range of application, inviting the reader to refer to the 10th-solar- and 11th-wind- editions if they require more information.
Solar installations are divided into two large groups: photovoltaic and thermal. Photovoltaic directly transforms the sun’s rays into electricity, while thermal uses the thermal potential of the Sun to raise the temperature of the working fluid and generate power. The latter, in turn, is subdivided into three groups based on the operating temperature: low (up to 100 °C), medium (100 °C – 400 °C) and high temperature (over 400 °C).
In order to visually locate the different existing technologies, the most significant ones found at a commercial level are detailed.
- Wind: Large equipment (windmills or wind turbines) capable of extracting energy from the wind and producing electricity. It can be seen on the map that the installation points shown result from those areas with the greatest resources; however, this applies to centralized generation since for distributed generation (small scale) it could be installed practically throughout the country.
- Photovoltaic: They can be used in isolation to power a small house requiring storage, or for centralized power generation. In the map it was considered for distributed generation in almost all the remote states, given the low level of maintenance required that can even be carried out by the community.
- Parabolic solar concentration (medium temperature): They concentrate the sun’s rays in the center of the parabola and heat the working fluid up to 400 °C. These systems replace the boilers of the steam power generation cycles, so they can be used withnatural gasback-upIts application focuses on centralized generation. The implementation of this technology was considered mainly from the Zulia-Guárico states due to the availability of land, as well as water for process, electrical transmission lines and the proximity of methane gas pipelines for back-up; however, in areas with a strong agricultural vocation, these plants could operate with biomass support.
- Solar Tower (high temperature): Similar to the previous one, they concentrate the sun’s rays but at a single point at the top of the tower, reaching temperatures of up to 1000 °C. They are used in the centralized generation of energy, one of its greatest limitations being the high level of land use. In Venezuela, they were considered for the northern areas of Falcón, Monagas and Anzoátegui due to the excellent resources available there, in addition to the proximity to the electric transmission lines. It should be noted that in the areas considered for this technology, parabolic concentration systems could also be implemented.
- Solar Stirling Engine (high temperature):The operating principle consists of only heating and cooling a working fluid externally. Its application is mainly dedicated to isolated or grouped loads, according to capacity. On the map, Táchira, Mérida, and the central region of the country were considered, given that their high power concentration capacity would allow them to serve entire towns, but their operational requirements are demanding, requiring their location in areas of technical response capacity. close.
- Biomass: It is that organic matter of animal or vegetable origin, including residues and waste, capable of being used for energy. In the country its use can be considered in all those areas of agricultural vocation, these being the high and low plains, Mérida and Táchira, Lara, etc. In the same way as in the other technologies, they can be hybridized according to the specific availability of the area.
When we connect all these technologies within an integrated scheme, say in the national interconnected system, a point that always comes up is the stability of the network. This is understood as the operating conditions that generators must meet to keep fluctuations in the electrical network within a defined range, either due to an excess or abrupt drop in the sun and/or wind, equipment failure, etc. on a certain moment. In the proposed map it can be seen that the wind generation of the coast (Falcón, Zulia and Sucre) is compensated by the Bolívar hydroelectric system, and may also be supported by the medium and high temperature solar systems located in the vicinity of these states, bearing in mind that the use of installed fossil generation would be a fundamental point to guarantee the normal operation of the national electrical system in the event of any contingency. in the following link The group of policies that must be established for the promotion of Renewable Energies in the country are shown.
Beyond the technical criteria of how to compensate the different generation plants, the important thing about the development of these alternative energy sources is to be able to place them in the vicinity of the main sources of consumption (Zulia, Gran Caracas, Carabobo, etc.) without this imply the shot in the use of fossil fuels in the country, which are not only promoters of global warming, but also sources of income for the nation. It should be noted that all this involves promoting the energy efficiency of cities .
In conclusion, an implementation map of renewable technologies in the country was presented based on technical-economic premises such as the state of the art of the technology, its intended use, and the available energy infrastructure. The path of economic growth in the country can be resumed again in a sustainable way by betting on clean sources, even increasing the proportion of green energy in the energy matrix, and leaving behind those days of blackouts and electricity rationing.
Published in: Venezuelan Commodities Magazine, 19th Edition. pp 36-37. ( See publication )
- Pdvsa Portal: http://www.pdvsa.com/PESP/Pages_pesp/aspectostecnicos/gasnatural/reservas_gasiferas.html
- Gonzalez (2009). Technical-Economic Prefeasibility Map of Venezuela for the Applicability of Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Technologies in Power Generation. Simon Bolivar University. Postgraduate in Mechanical Engineering.
- Master Portal in Renewable Energies and Energy Market, Madrid. http://www.eoi.es/blogs/merme/energia-eolica-en-venezuela-futuro-posibilidades/