Who, What & Where

  • Karl Kolmsee, Smart Hydro Power

  • E-mobility in the Colombian Amazon based on Hybrid-PV Hydro-Power

  • Colombia, South America


Financed by a program of the German Government, German communities can cooperate with communities in selected countries like Colombia in climate change projects. The Bavarian community of Schondorf supports by means of school transport with an electrical boat in a small town called Jiri Jiri in the Colombian department Putumayo. The boat and a charging station using PV and hydrokinetic as energy sources were installed in December 2016 with a total budget of Euro 50,000.

The Company

Due to its experience in the Colombian market, Schondorf selected Smart Hydro Power as its technology supplier and project implementers.

The Objective

School transport in Jiri Jiri depended on the affordability and availability of diesel for the boat motor. As Jiri Jiri is remote and not always accessible, availability itself was an issue in the past. With the employment of an electric boat, Schondorf and Jiri Jiri wanted to make school transport more reliable.

The Challenge

Jiri Jiri is located in the Amazon Putumayo region with limited accessibility making transport of whatever technology a venture. Jiri Jiri had so far no experience with electricity.

Opportunities for Renewables

Even though there are abundant renewable resources like biomass, water and sun, the difficulty was their accessibility and the distribution of resources over the year. During the rainy season, biomass is wet and there is little to no radiation during these six months of the year. Water alone is abundant in this region.

Renewable Solution

As no heavy equipment can be transported into the region, it was decided to go with a hybrid PV-hydro-kinetic plant. A hydrokinetic water turbine uses only the flow of the water and does not require damming. This makes it a specifically environmentally friendly solution particularly for smaller projects (up to 100 kW). Servicing (cleaning of the turbine) can be done after some training. The SMART turbine is a 5 kW turbine which was integrated with 3 kWp PV panels so that the generation power could easily balance seasonal variability. To allow a second-use of the electricity, the electricity was provided to the charger of boat batteries with 230V and separately with 110 V to the installed community kitchen with fridge and mixer. Installing a community kitchen helped raise the interest of women of the village of the new technology and how it worked. We noted that this helped to maintain servicing and thereby added to the sustainability of the project.

Project Financing and Costs

The budget of Euro 50,000 was given by the German government initiative with some additional in-kind contribution by the village and Smart Hydro Power.

Project Outcome

The small village of Jiri Jiri with 20 households has today a reliable source of energy for fluvial transport and for its community kitchen. Adjacent communities benefit from the school transport service. Local servicing currently runs with no reported problems.