Biogas can also be used for household lighting. Photo: Ángel Freddy Pérez Cabrera

GRANMA.— With the first solar park installed in this eastern province fully operational, and the construction of three new similar sites underway, Granma province will see a six-fold increase in its contribution to the Cuban National Electric System by mid-2017, reaching 14 megawatts (MW) of power and saving the country some 21,000 tons of fossil fuels.  

Combined workforces of the Ministry of Construction and the local Electric Company are simultaneously assembling the second park of 9,600 solar panels, that will contribute 2.2 MW, located in the El Yarey area, Jiguaní municipality, adjacent to the first identical park which has been operating since last December.

In the same municipality, as well as in that of Cauto Cristo, the installation of two additional solar parks using Chinese technology is underway, which will have double the generating capacity (17,600 solar panels providing 4.4MW) as compared to those located in El Yarey. These will use domestically produced components (except the solar inverter), as authorities from the Granma Electric Company explained.

Regis Fernández, Investments director for the company, noted that at the current pace, the three photovoltaic plants under construction will be operational by June 30. These are the main projects currently being undertaken by the company, to which a total of 17 of the 20 million pesos of its 2017 investment plan have been assigned. This is indicative of the priority that Cuba attaches to the increased use of renewable energy sources.

Coupled with the evident economic and environmental benefits of this modern, clean, efficient way of generating power, the example of Jiguaní can also illustrate the local impact of the use of such technology, as with three solar parks, the territory could be self-sufficient, if required in exceptional situations.

Once fully operational, the four solar parks will result in savings of 21,000 tons of fossil fuels. Photo: Martínez Arias, Rafael

Jesús Darío Bárzaga, a representative of the electric company in this territory, detailed that although these systems directly contribute to the national grid, in case of interruptions due to meteorological, technological, or other causes, the sites could be independent of the central line, working in isolation and supplying the almost nine MW needed by Jiguaní.

Meanwhile Antonio Baró, territorial president of the Cubasolar society, and head of the Photovoltaic Parks Installation Group, noted that the province already has the necessary documentation and micro-location lists of 16 new available areas for similar future facilities.

He explained that due to its advantageous geographic location, Granma can become a national reference in the use of these technologies, since this area has the highest proven levels of solar radiation in Cuba, saying “A photovoltaic kilowatt of power, installed here, can contribute 1.7 Megawatts per hour in a year.”

Although still far from taking full advantage of the enormous potential in the use of renewable sources, Granma has seen growth in the installation of related technologies, with 1,026 wind turbines, 251 biogas digesters, more than 400 solar heaters, 1,823 individual solar panels installed in remote homes and institutions, and other alternative systems, in addition to the 54,400 panels to be connected to the national grid this June.