Inefficiency has a heavy price: the case of Colombia

28 Jun 2019

Colombia has been striving towards developing sustainable, long-term and more robust domestic energy efficiency programme/s. The following sequence of events shows significant progress in the right direction, but the country recognises that there is a long way ahead in its journey towards maximising its energy efficiency potential. 


Colombia is aware that the measures to institute energy efficiency policies and programmes are not enough to tackle their domestic demand for energy. Different sectors experience a wide array of challenges; significant progress has been made in the appliances and equipment sector by prohibiting the use of incandescent lightbulbs. However, in the transport sector, the situation is problematic, as the energy consumption skyrockets due to the aging fleet of vehicles. In the industry sector, the current inventory of industrial machinery is outdated and constitutes a huge waste of energy with very little incentives to change.  

There is, however, enough momentum for pivoting a change in Colombia. One of the most difficult steps has already been taken in 2014, when they introduced the Ley 1715 , which has as an objective to incentivise new alternative energy sources such as energy efficiency, renewables and promoting more investments into clean technologies for all sectors to counterbalance the GHG emissions in the country.

As part of this law, subsidies have been introduced that allow the industry sector to benefit from a reduction in cost of machinery that functions with alternative energy sources as well as reduction in taxation for more efficiency imported machinery. This represents a concrete win for the industrial sector if the rhythm is maintained. For the appliance sector, there is a relatively new labelling scheme that indicates consumers the amount of energy consumed by a particular appliance, but it is too early to measure its impact at the national level.  

The body that promotes a sustainable energy transition in the country: Rios Vivos de Colombia, alerts that these measures, at least for the time being,  are a timid effort and that the country needs to set tougher, more ambitious goals if it would like to position itself as its own provider of energy. [1]

Inefficiency costs the Colombian economy USD nearly 7 million yearly[2].

On 25 May 2019, Mr. Benoit Lebot, Head of IPEEC, was invited to participate in the ninth workshop on energy efficiency, held in Bogota, Colombia. This forum highlighted the need for a more established public policy that supports long term, sustainable and secure change in energy efficiency policies. International collaboration, highlighted by Mr. Lebot, plays an important role in facilitated knowledge sharing with other Members that have successfully implemented energy efficiency policies in the region. He welcomed future collaboration with Colombia and praised their efforts in involving the international community to help them redirect the conversation around energy efficiency.

The workshop represents some of the steps being taken by Colombia to fully align itself with the compromised acquired during COP21 in Paris. It is estimated that up to 40% of the GHG emissions reductions can come from implementing energy efficiency policies.[3] This annual event, organised by the local office of the World Energy Council and the National Association of Enterprises, Public Services and Communications (ANDESCO), the National Association of Public Service companies, brings together experts to try to address the main challenges faced for the implementation of energy efficiency policies and programmes.

For the past five years in a row, ANDESCO along with the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Unit of Planning Mines and energy and the Financial Territorial Development handed out awards in five different categories including public policy, NGOs research work and Industry, Commerce and Services.

Such schemes continue to incentivise and reward organisations and industries from all sectors to conduct research, implement and consolidate energy efficiency policies and programmes, propelling Colombia closer to its Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development goals. Creating and fostering spaces for collaboration with national and international experts in order to identify clear opportunities in energy efficiency have certainly shed some light into Colombia’s path towards a sustainable energy transition.

Colombia, Semana Sostenible [Web log post]. (2019, March 5). Eficiencia energética: Colombia ha avanzado, pero falta mucho por hacer. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://sostenibilidad.semana.com/actualidad/articulo/eficiencia-energetica-colombia-ha-avanzado-pero-falta-mucho-por-hacer/43180[1]

[2] Colombia, Andesco [Web log post]. (2019, May 2). La ineficiencia energética le cuesta a Colombia $21 billones de pesos anuales. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.andesco.org.co/2019/05/07/la-ineficiencia-energetica-le-cuesta-a-colombia-21-billones-de-pesos-anuales/[2]

[3] Ibidem 2