The apple of development’s eye

The Cuban preparedness programme to face natural disasters which preceded Hurricane Matthew prioritised the protection of photovoltaic parks and other installations that use renewable energy sources.

Civil Defence oriented the dismantling of the photovoltaic parks installed in the provinces threatened by Hurricane Matthew.

Specialised brigades are getting ready to reinstall the photovoltaic parks in the provinces of eastern Cuba, with the same diligence with which they dismantled them before Hurricane Matthew neared the country’s south-eastern coast. This time the taking down and protection of the solar panels was one of the government’s prioritised measures in the preparation against natural disasters.

The well-prepared care with which these installations were treated confirms the importance the country grants to a strategic investment programme: the rapid expansion of power generation based on renewable energy sources.

 

The press and the authorities closely followed in the province of Guantánamo the dismantling of the 21,000 solar panels of the Santa Teresa photovoltaic park. It is one of the largest in the country to date, with a capacity for the generation of 14 megawatts. It was built three years ago in one of the zones with the greatest solar radiation, close to the Guantánamo Naval Base.

 

In the eastern provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Granma, technicians and engineers carried out the operations with the same purpose in similar installations.

Through the development of technologies like the wind power parks and others, Cuba hopes to increase to 24 per cent the participation of renewable sources in power generation.

Through the development of technologies like the wind power parks and others, Cuba hopes to increase to 24 per cent the participation of renewable sources in power generation.

 

Cuba currently has 21 photovoltaic parks and a generation capacity of 34.8 MW, but it hopes to expand that power up to 700 MW in the next years. Cienfuegos, Pinar del Río, Camagüey, Isla de la Juventud and Sancti Spíritus are other provinces that this year synchronised to the National Electricity Grid new installations to produce power based on sunlight.

 

Pinar del Río, Cuba’s westernmost province, aims to be the leader of that energy option. The director of investments of the Electric Company in the province, Michel Casal, reported to the press that areas have already been chosen for 28 photovoltaic parks, which will have a total capacity of 105 MW. Therefore, they will be able to cover 70 per cent of the province’s demand for energy.

 

The Cuban program for the transformation of the energy core plans to increase the participation of renewable sources from the current 4 per cent to 24 per cent in 2030. Solar power is barely a piece.

 

Another two fundamental alternatives are wind power and the production of electricity based on the bagasse left as a sub-product in the sugar factories and other forestry waste materials. The first wind power parks, distributed on the northern coast of Holguín and Las Tunas, are planned to increase to up to 13, a part through long-term credits and others with foreign investment. They will have a total capacity of 633 MW. Meanwhile, the projected 198 bioelectrical plants would contribute 755 MW.

 

Together with other renewable sources, they would add up to more than 2,100 MW to the country’s generation capacity, the director of renewable energy of the Energy and Mines Ministry, Rosell Guerra, announced at a Summit on energy and infrastructure held in Havana last September with the participation of 14 countries.

 

With this investment programme Cuba hopes to gain energy independence, decrease the costs in power generation and increase the guarantee of the supply, Guerra said at the international meeting. Another assessed benefit is the contribution to reducing the CO2 emanated into the atmosphere as a measure to face climate warming.

 

The approach of the economy to its energy independence as well as the benefit it implies for the environment are key elements to approximate the process of Cuban economic transformations to the criterion of sustainability proposed for the Cuban development model. (2016)

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