OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Cuba has for several years now been advancing in the development of renewable energy resources, in an effort to increase use of clean, sustainable energy.

Since 2006, when the Energy Revolution was launched, the country has been implementing various programs focused on the sovereign development of exploration, knowledge, and use of domestic sources of energy, of all kinds.

The impact has been positive, increasing efficient consumer use of electricity, reducing transmission losses, and achieving better integration of micro-systems supplying urban areas, also important in the event of natural disasters. (See Table 1)

With a view toward contributing to the updating of the country’s economic model, in June of 2014, the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly of People’s Power approved a plan to add 2,144 megawatts (MW) of generating power, through the installation of 13 eolic parks and banks of solar panels, plus 74 new mini-hydroelectric generating stations (to join the 73 currently in operation.)

Also being put to good use are thermal solar energy, forestry biomass, as well as urban and agricultural residues.

At this time, only 4% of the total electricity generated nationally is based on the use of renewable sources, but plans are in place to reach 7,245 gigawatts (GW) annually by 2030, which means more than four million tons of CO2 per year not emitted into the atmosphere, thus making a contribution to mitigating the impact of climate change. Wind power contributes some 633 MW.

Small, but important contributions are made by wind mills pumping water in pastures, much appreciated in times of drought, and the installation of 650 solar systems in remote areas (not connected to the national grid). Use of solar water heaters continues to expand, along with ovens and caldrons heated with agricultural residue to bake bricks and prepare animal feed.

SOLAR POWER

Bank of solar panels serving the ExpoCuba fairgrounds, south of Havana. Photo: Ismael Batista

Photovoltaic systems transform the sun’s light - photons - into electrical energy, volts. (See Figure 2) Cuba’s potential use of this type of energy is significant, estimated at five kilowatts per hour (KW/h) per square meter, based on the intense solar radiation the island receives, as a result of its location and climate.

A national effort to install banks of solar panels was projected in Guidelines 247 and 285 of the economic and social policies approved by the Sixth Communist Party of Cuba Congress in 2011, and there are currently 14 such systems operating in the provinces of La Habana, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Camagüey, Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo and the Isle of Youth special municipality.

This year through October, these installations have generated a total of 23,459,700 KWh, which translates into savings of some 6,334 tons of fossil fuel, and 18,767 tons less of C02 emitted into the atmosphere. The solar panels in place were assembled by the Electronic Components Enterprise in the province of Pinar del Río.

The People’s Republic of China has donated a 1,000 KW photovoltaic system to the Expo Cuba fairgrounds, (see Figure 3) allowing for a 50% reduction in the facility’s consumption from the national grid; less energy lost in transmission; and the opportunity to test the technology of a high power system in Cuba.

The National Electrical Union is projecting the installation of solar parks, connected to the national grid, to produce an additional 700 MW, and studying options for their location close to population centers. Also being investigated is the independent placement of photovoltaic systems on the roofs of refrigerated warehouses and large air conditioned facilities.

Currently under construction are large banks of panels in the municipality of El Yarey, in Granma province; Cita, Camagüey; La Sierpe Vieja, Sanctí Spíritus; Palmira, Cienfuegos; Troncoso, Pinar del Rio; Universidad, Isla de la Juventud; and Santa Teresa, in Guantánamo.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY A LA CARTE

The installation of solar heaters, photovoltaic panels, and wind mills, as well as the use of residuals to produce biogas and organic fertilizer, are helping meet the needs of communities across the island.

Research and scientific innovation are priorities for the country, and key to the comprehensive strategy being implemented, which includes the diversification of funding sources, specifically investment from abroad in addition to state budget allocations.

An increased number of highly qualified staff is needed to implement the ambitious program, which will provide important opportunities for employment, training and professional development.

There are currently 27 scientific projects underway, directed toward taking better advantage of clean energy; strengthening ties between research institutions; increasing knowledge about the issue; and promoting the introduction of new technologies which are applicable immediately.

“The only real and fair solution to climate change must come from the modification of patterns of production and consumption, the elimination of underdevelopment and poverty, and the promotion of a fairer and more equitable international economic order,” said Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz Canel, at the COP21 climate change conference recently held in Paris.

Thus Cuba is committed to a sustainable and well-founded socialism, with the participation of all citizens focused on a common goal. Energy constitutes the most fundamental requirement to dynamizing the economy.

Table 1:

                  Use of Renewable Energy Sources in Cuba

 

Technology

Capacity

facilities

 

Sugarcane biomass

470 MW

57 Sugar mills

 

Eolic

11.1 MW      

4 Eolic Parks

 

Photovoltaic                 

22 MW

14 banks of solar panels      

   

5543               

Rural schools

   

467

Clinics

   

1882

Rural TV viewing centers

   

1101

Remote dwellings

 

Hydroelectric

64 MW

147 stations

 

Biogas

0.82 MW

5 Plants

 

Biomass

0.50 MW

4 Plants