My recent three-week journey through Colombia was a wonderful mix of work and exploration in this diverse and stunning country. Besides the beautiful attractions, what stood out the most was the warmth, optimism, and resilience of its people.
The main purpose of my visit was to attend the 3rd Pan-American Marine Energy Conference (PAMEC) hosted by the University of the North in Barranquilla. This conference brought together stakeholders from academia, industry, and policy making, spanning from Alaska to Chile, including representatives from Canada, the USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Colombia, Brazil, and Chile. The conference showcased ongoing research and proposed pilot projects, with a special focus on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and Salinity Gradient Power, besides wave, tidal and offshore wind research.
Beyond the insightful presentations over three days, the true value of PAMEC lay in the connections made with like-minded professionals, the exchange of inspiration, and the laying of foundations for potential collaborations.
My objectives were twofold: to identify opportunities for Dutch marine energy technologies (see more about EWA and also our Offshore For Sure project) and to promote the online courses developed by Bluespring in collaboration with Deftiq. Currently, we are in the process of translating these courses into Spanish and gearing up for a pilot action under the EU FLORES project to test the content with native Spanish speakers. If you wish to join, please provide your details via the 'contact' button on www.Deftiq.com/ore.
One week after the conference in Barranquilla, Professor Fernando Colmenares of Universidad Cooperativa Colombia, an excellent advocate for our work during the INTERREG project ENCORE, organized a two-day program for me in Medellin to promote education on offshore renewables.
Our first meeting with EPM, one of Colombia's largest utility companies, focused on addressing challenges in supplying power to remote areas and the potential for floating solar and micro-hydro solutions. EPM just completed a pilot in the famous and beautiful Guatape bassin. Furthermore, we discussed their vision to play a role in the future green hydrogen economy and how offshore wind projects should be aimed solely at green hydrogen generation, aligning with similar plans in Uruguay.
Our subsequent visits to Ruta N and MOVA, innovation centers in the North of Medellin, revealed the city's transformation from its challenging past to becoming an innovation hub for the country. Ruta N, a public accelerator for science and technology-related startups, and MOVA, an educational center training college teachers, provided an excellent platform to discuss integrating offshore renewables content into their curricula.
Finally, Fernando facilitated a significant learning experience for myself, guiding me through a live webinar held entirely in Spanish for a group of over 40 participants. I appreciated the opportunity to share insights into Dutch offshore innovations such as Oceans of Energy, Water2Energy, Tocardo, Dutch Wave Power, and Symphony and present some of the content covered in our online courses, all in Spanish of course!
In short, my time in Colombia has been an incredible experience. I extend my sincere gratitude to the organizers of PAMEC Barranquilla, the wonderful people I met, and Fernando and his BERSTIC team for hosting me in Medellin and guiding me through my own learning journey. It was a fulfilling and enriching experience opening the doors to new collaborations!