Wind Farms and Solar Power
Wind farms and solar power make up Cuba’s green energy strategy to the year 2030. According to data from the University of Turku’s Finland Futures Research Center, Cuba had installed infrastructure to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity in 2014. Out of this, fossil fuels, including oil imported mostly from Venezuela, accounted for approximately 95% of the total energy produced annually.
Renewable energy from sources such as wind farms accounts for about 5% of the energy generated in Cuba. Nevertheless, the Cuban government has stated that it intends to ramp up the production of green energy significantly by the year 2030. The following is a summary of Cuba’s green energy strategy to achieve this goal.
Cuba has been planning and preparing to build wind farms such as its largest currently under construction in the coastal area of La Herradura, Jesus Menendez municipality in the province of Las Tunas. Feasibility studies found that the average speed of wind in the area is 6.68 meters per second making it a suitable location for the construction of wind farms.
Figures from the Integrated Department of Wind Energy Project Management of the Renewable Energy Sources Investment Company (EDIFRE) show that 34, 1.5 MW wind turbines will be installed at the site. When launched in late 2017 or early 2018, the Herradura 1 wind farm will have a total output capacity of 51 megawatts of electricity and reduce reliance on diesel for energy production by 43,000 tons.
After the completion of Herradura 1, the construction of a second wind farm (Herradura 2) consisting of 20 more powerful wind turbines will commence one kilometer away. China’s Xianjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. supplies the wind turbines installed at these locations.
Figures published by the havanatimes.org website show that Cuba is geographically capable of generating 5kWh per square meter of available surface area. To exploit this renewable power potential, the Cuban government has built a solar panel manufacturing facility in Santa Teresa in Guantanamo province. Other factories have also been built in Cienfuegos and Granma Province.
Granma Province is the leader in solar energy generation and use, thanks to more than 1,500 off-grid solar panels that provide power to homes, schools, community centers, and health clinics. In total, solar power accounts for 37% of the electric power used in Granma Province.
Cuba’s plan to increase renewable energy by 2030
To start with, authorities in Cuba have set a target of installing 700 MW of solar energy capacity by 2030. This is in addition to generating 633 MW from 13 yet to be constructed wind parks. At the same time, Cuba intends to construct 19 facilities that will generate 755 MW of “green” electricity from cane biomass. Finally, the Cuban authorities are planning to construct 74 small hydroelectric plants that will cumulatively generate 56 MW of electricity.
Other strategies of the Cuban government initiatives to improve energy efficiency include the sale of approximately 13 million LED bulbs and convincing residential power users to replace coil-based electric cookers with induction cookers. Cuba reckons that the LED lamps and induction cookers will reduce energy consumption by 50% and 30% respectively. In total, Cuba plans to spend more than $3.5 billion to increase the supply of renewable electricity by 2030.
Hive Energy solar project
Hive Energy is a British company that has secured a contract from Cuba’s Union Electrica de Cuba (UNE) to build a 50 MW solar power generating plant at the Special Economic Development Zone at the Port of Mariel. This plant will be similar to the UK’s largest solar farm (48 MW PV solar farm in Southwick, Hampshire) and is expected to generate up to 93 GWh of electricity per year.
Despite the crippling economic sanctions of the American embargo, Cuba has embarked on an ambitious green energy strategy to increase the amount of renewable electricity it generates annually from about 4% of its total energy this year to more than 20% by 2030. In achieving this goal, Cuba plans to ramp up its capacity to generate energy from wind farms, solar farms, and cane biomass.
Zoe Veraz is a content writer, freelance journalist and regular contributor to the Cuba Business Report.