Category Archives: Bolivia

Solar Photovoltaic Bolivia

Until the first half of the 90s, the installed capacity in Bolivia was 5.000 photovoltaic systems mainly for telecommunications and rural households’ electrification.

During the second half of the decade, more than 5.000 systems were installed in the department of Santa Cruz in a project promoted by CRE distributor, with funding from the Netherlands Kingdom Embassy.

In addition to this, projects financed by NRECA in the so called “Yungas” region of La Paz department and Energética in Cochabamba (Chimboata and Intikanchay projects) were also implemented.

Since the year 2000, more than 2.000 systems are being installed per year from projects such as those implemented by the Social Investment Fund (FIS) and the La Paz department Prefecture.

The number of installed systems to date exceeds 35.000.

According to data provided by Energética NGO, 83,4% of existing photovoltaic solar installations are for home use, 16,3% for social using (health centers, educational units, churches, seniors centers, unions) and 0,3% are for productive use (spinning centers, craft centers, pumping systems).

Most facilities are located in the departments of Cochabamba, Oruro and Potosi.

There are three important aspects that can favor the country’s photovoltaic development:

1- The manufacture of components by Bolivian companies. One company has included photovoltaic system batteries in its offer and another produces charge controllers, PL-type fluorescent lamps and voltage converters.

2- The training of human resources in this technology, which has been included within technical training centers’ curriculums, which allows to provide the labor needed to support a significant rate of implementations.

3- Installations’ quality. Bolivia was the first country in the region to have own regulations that guarantee quality. They were developed by the BOL / 97 / G31 project implemented by the Department of Electricity and Alternative Energies financed by UNDP / GEF and issued by the Bolivian Institute for Standards and Quality (IBNORCA).

Although photovoltaic technology in Bolivia has reached a certain maturity, it still has challenges ahead. Especially in the field of productive uses which should enable rural people to increase their income. Thus, it would fulfill a great purpose: to bring development to rural areas.

The second phase of the first solar power plant was recently inaugurated in the country (the 1st phase was delivered in September 2014) with a capacity of 5.1 MW and located in Villa Bush (Pando).

Cobija Photovoltaic Solar Plant will provide continuous power to the municipalities of Cobija, Porvenir, Filadelfia, Bella Flor and Puerto Rico.

The project’s total investment was U$D 11 million. The National Electricity Company (ENDE) invested U$D 4.98 million (47%), while the Danish Cooperation made a non-repayable contribution of U$D 6 million (53%).

Energy from Cobija Photovoltaic Solar Plant is expected to substitute the consumption of 1.9 million liters (0.43 million Gallons) of diesel per year.

The projected Oruro Department solar plant will have a capacity of 20 MW and its construction will involve the investment of U$D 45 million.

Solar Thermal Bolivia

In Bolivia, it is estimated that solar thermal installations will increase at a pace of around 500 per year across the country.

This growth is obviously too slow considering Bolivia’s solar potential.

Its radiation is so high that many applications of solar thermal energy could be used.

However, the domestic market is emerging and there are few companies dedicated to this technology.

The most active area is located in the central region of Cochabamba where there are 5 companies that are mainly engaged in thermosiphon equipment installations.

In Bolivia, energy is only available to a small proportion of the population. Broad sectors of poor people in rural areas are not connected to the public electricity network.

The electricity and gas distribution network do not reach these remote regions because this expansion would not result in profits for suppliers.

The use of solar thermal energy has an enormous potential for providing hot water to communities in the highlands, where there are very low temperatures that adversely affect the region’s production and people’s daily activities.

Weather conditions in the Bolivian highlands are extreme due to night frosts. Water from pits or pipes have a very low temperature and therefore it needs to be heated by electricity or gas for people’s personal hygiene and for washing clothes and various items.

As Bolivia is located near the Equator, solar radiation is very high and with no variation between summer and winter periods. Therefore, there are ideal conditions for using solar energy in water heating.

From all of the above, it is clear that the key to overcoming this situation is to stimulate the solar thermal products market growth through policies that affect both supply and demand in the departments of La Paz, Oruro and Cochabamba.

This would contribute to poverty alleviation, environmental conservation and natural resources protection.

From a business point of view, this would encourage the establishment of many companies in the area.

The spread of this technology is currently limited in Bolivia by:

– Technological shortcomings

– Lack of means for certification rating

– Inefficient structures in service, sales and maintenance

– Distrust of potential users

– High production and services costs originated in limited production and sales volumes

– Poor access to financing

– Lack of state incentives (financing, subsidies or tax exemptions).

Solar Bolivia

Bolivia has a high energy potential, both for traditional and alternative energy.

Given its geological nature, the country produces more natural gas than oil (62% of total liquids produced from condensed).

Its natural gas reserves are the second largest in South America (after Venezuela), but considering those that are liquids free, they are the first. Besides, it is expected that they will increase by 200 to 300 trillion cubic feet.

This is the basis for the Bolivian economy. The country has export contracts with the countries that surround it. For example, Brazil has a contract for 30 million cubic feet per day for 20 years.

The power sector accounts for 63% of natural gas sales.

The electricity generated in Bolivia comes from hydroelectric plants (35%) and thermal power stations (65%).

The National Interconnected System (SIN) is 90% composed by the main centers of production and consumption (La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro, Potosi, Chuquisaca, Beni and Santa Cruz) and by isolated systems in smaller cities and towns that complete the remaining 10% of the national electricity market (Department of Pando).

Bolivia is determined to change its energy matrix, which currently is based on thermal generation.

Authorities have repeatedly pointed that their goal is to achieve a mix of 70% of power generation by hydroelectric or from alternative sources such as wind and solar, and limit thermal to the remaining 30%.

Therefore it targets to incorporate around 183 MW of renewable energy by 2025.

Two thirds of Bolivia, whose latitudinal position is between the parallels 9º 40′ S and 22º 53′ W, are situated within the range of greater solar radiation.

Thanks to this situation, the country has one of the highest levels of solar intensity in the region.

Solar incidence in the country reaches an annual average of 5,4 kWh / m² per day of intensity and 7 h/day of effective insolation.

However, perhaps because of the high availability of natural gas, Bolivia currently has no regulations and legislation that fosters sustainable development for solar installations.