“Biotaxis” and other Clean Transportation Options

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

A regional ECPA workshop held in the Colombian capital focused on opportunities to incorporate energy-efficient alternatives into the transportation sector. Participants heard about such recent developments as a fleet of “Biotaxis” in Bogotá and a new trolley system being built in Medellín.

The workshop on “Energy-Efficiency Trends for Fossil Fuel Use,” held on September 25, brought together some 55 participants from both the private and public sectors, including representatives from several other South American countries. Colombian officials highlighted some of the progress the country has made on the political, legal, and technical fronts to address a troubling increase in energy use in recent years. The transportation sector is the country’s largest energy user, accounting for nearly 44 percent of total consumption in 2012, with industry in second place at 21 percent.

A pilot project in Bogotá is looking at ways to incorporate more hybrid and electric vehicles into the transportation system, for example with a fleet of “Biotaxis” in Bogotá. The vehicles, which help to reduce both air pollution and noise, run on rechargeable batteries and can travel 300 kilometers on a two-hour charge. Thirty of the cabs are already operating, under an initiative run by Grupo Endesa, and another 20 are slated to be on the roads by the end of the year. So far the city has four charging stations.

A representative of the Medellín Metro, meanwhile, talked about the progress underway on the city’s modern trolley system, which will provide a new option for public transportation in the coming months.

The technical workshop also addressed other topics related to energy efficiency, ranging from government policies on natural gas to the potential for self-generation and cogeneration in the industrial sector. The event wrapped up with a panel on financial strategies to implement energy-efficiency measures in transportation and industry, with representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Colombia Clean Energy Program, and Colombia’s business development bank Bancóldex participating.

The workshop was sponsored jointly by the Mining and Energy Planning Unit of Colombia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy and the OAS Department of Sustainable Development, through the ECPA Clearinghouse. Representatives of the Chilean Agency for Energy Efficiency, Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, and Uruguay’s Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Mining also attended. This event was the third in a series of four regional workshops ECPA is holding in the 2013-2014 period.