With the agreement to build power generating plants based on sugarcane biomass, Cuba has taken another important step in its programme to transform the national energy matrix. The works, which will start this year as was announced by the Azcuba Corporation, will be a new change of direction for the country’s traditional sugar agribusiness.
The Biopower S.A. joint venture, created between the British Havana Energy Ltd and the Cuban Zerus S.A., sponsored by the Azcuba sugar group, will be responsible for the construction of five power generating plants associated to sugar mills. The bioelectricity plants will be built by the Cuban Construction and Assembly Business Group, and the contractor will be Shanghai Electric, which signed a contract to hand it over to Cuba in the turnkey modality.
The first of those industries, with capacity for 62 megawatts, will be built in areas close to the Ciro Redondo sugar factory, in the province of Ciego de Avila, in the central region of the country. It will cost approximately 125 million pounds sterling (approximately 183 million dollars), like the rest of the plants planned by Biopower.
This is a reference project which we expect to start soon, the president of Zerus S.A., Francisco Lleó Martín, said.
To generate power, the plants will use as fuel the enormous volumes of bagasse and straw left from the grinding of sugarcane. It will also use marabou crops, a weed that has invaded large extensions of arable land in Cuba.
In a press release, the Azcuba Group announced that it is planning to build 25 power plants based on sugarcane biomass in the mid and long term.
Once the bioelectric plants programme has been completely implemented it will have an important impact on the diversification of Cuban sugar agribusiness productions, it will multiply the contribution of electricity to the country in an environment-friendly way and will have a positive influence in the change of the national energy matrix, sources from Azcuba commented to the Prensa Latina news agency.
The president of Biopower, Andrew Macdonald, pointed out that is has been a necessarily complex negotiation to establish a financial structure that satisfies all parties. The project started being negotiated five years ago.
Macdonald is confident that the subsequent plants will start being built at a faster pace thanks to the association of Havana Energy with Shanghai Electric for the execution of the Construction and Start-up and Finances Procurement Engineering contracts.
Cuba has set itself the strategy of transforming the energy matrix that would increase the participation of renewable sources from 4.6 per cent at present to 24 per cent in 2030. In addition to solar energy and the wind power alternative, one of the renewable sources that create the most expectations is the waste from sugar production.
In the world there are 186 bioelectric plants at present: 160 in Brazil and the rest on the islands of Reunion, Mauritius and Guadeloupe, India, Australia, Belize, Guatemala, China, Costa Rica and the United States. (2016)
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