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Cuba (2012)

Extent of network: 

The National Electricity System is interconnected throughout the island by a transmission grid operating at 220/110 kV, with 2,833 km of 220 kV and 4,188 km of 110 kV. The distribution grid covers 95% of the island. Population access to electricity stands at approximately 97%.

Energy framework: 

National Environmental StrategyIn 1997, the National Environmental Strategy was approved, and its implementation started. The strategy establishes the principles that sustain the national environmental politics, characterizes the main environ­mental problems and proposes the instruments for their prevention, solution or mitigation. The same year, the National Assembly passed Law 81 on ‘Environment’ that reaffirmed national ownership of the natural resources and the environment. In this law, the institutional framework was defined, specifying the obligations, powers and functions of organizations in rational use and conservation. Moreover, the environmental policy and management instruments were regulated.The “Revolución Energética”In recent times, Cuba has been plagued by frequent power blackouts – the result of inefficient generation in outdated thermal power plants, large transmission losses, and increasing demand. To respond to the power crisis, the Government launched its “Revolución Energética” in 2006. This Revolution has five aspects: energy efficiency and conservation; increasing the availability and reliability of the national grid; incorporating more RE technologies into the energy portfolio; increasing the exploration and production of local oil and gas; and, international co-operation.In 2008, however, electricity produced from RES represented only 3.85% of the total. To reduce its energy needs, Cuba is experimenting with a wide variety of renewable resource technologies, including sugar cane biomass for electricity and cooking gas, hydroelectric power generation, wind and photo-voltaic generators, and bioclimatic architecture.RES (solar, wind and hydroelectric) are seen by the Cuban Government as the preferred means to extend the coverage of power supply to the 4% of population living in marginal (mountainous) areas of the country. The introduction of RES in agricultural production and processing offers the opportunity to extend agricultural processing into marginal areas and, more broadly, to reduce production costs through the introduction of biofuels and small scale generation plants.

Renewable energy potential: 

The country has three test wind farms, more than fifteen thousand solar water heater systems and solar photovoltaic panels in rural areas far from the grid, and hundreds of small biogas plants. The number of wind mills for water pumping is increasing and towns as Puerto Padre in Las Tunas province and Cruces in Cienfuegos province, are “disputing” which was the first in using wind energy for water pumping.In Cuba’s largest island, Isla de la Juventud, biomass and wind farming supplement the existing Grupo Electrógeno power facilities. The 3.6 MW biomass gasifier plant was started in 2005 and was the first diesel-biomass hybrid installation in Cuba. The 1.5 MW wind farm is located on the northern part of the Juventud Island where optimal wind conditions were found for producing electricity.HydropowerAlthough Cuba does not have large rivers, there is a considerable hydroelectric potential. Cuba´s hydropower potential is estimated at 650 MW, with an annual generation of some 1300 GWh. Out of this potential, Cuba only used 60.1 MW in 180 facilities producing around 138 GWh in 2008. The country uses small and medium waterfalls and rivers to generate the electricity that powers a number of rural communities, and has the option to use dams and canals already built, in order to produce electricity.Solar energySolar energy is available in Cuba throughout the year with an average insolation value of 5 kWh/m2 per day. Each square meter of Cuban territory receives, on a daily basis, an amount of solar energy that is equivalent to the energy content of half a kilogram of petroleum. This high level of insolation creates ideal conditions for the installation of photovoltaic and thermal energy systems.Wind energyThe incidence of solar radiation on Cuban territory and its adjacent seas brings out streams of winds known as land and sea breezes. These, together with the trade winds and the Atlantic Anticyclone, which are almost always near the Cuban archipelago and are the main contributor of wind, provide important areas for wind development. Wind capacity factors and transmission costs are highly site dependent. A detailed high-resolution wind energy resource map for Cuba, created as part of the SWERA project for the United Nations Environment Programme, estimated the total Cuban wind potential at 2,550 MW.Cuba possesses three wind farms (Turiguano, Gibara I and II) which produced about 10,000MW for the National Electric System in 2010, and accounted for the saving of 2,225 oil tons.Today, the country has three key decision-making tools for the installation of wind farms. These are: the wind map of ecological evidence, the map depicting the risk of hurricanes, flooding and electric storms, and the national wind map. Areas with great wind energy potential have been identified mainly in the eastern-most region of the country.Biomass energyCuba has experience in the cultivation of sugar cane. The country´s relatively fertile land, humidity, and abundant solar radiation support the biomass plants which, if the sugar mills boilers are used efficiently, can provide high energy output to the national electrical grid. The decrease in biomass use is due to the reduction of sugar cane production. With the restructuring of the industrial sector in 2002, the use of biomass is expected to fall even further in the future, and any increase will depend on a rise in productivity and efficiency in the sugar industry. There is also the potential to use forest biomass, taking into account that over 25% of the country is covered with forests and is increasing. Exploitable wood fuel potential, without endangering the ecological balance, is estimated at 3.5 million m3 per year.Geothermal energyCuba has been involved in geothermal development in the region in the past, having been a stakeholder in the Eastern Caribbean Geothermal Project. No current geothermal projects exist in the country, however.