Cuba opens clean energy to foreign investment
Por María Julia Mayoral
Havana._ Cuba's ministry of Energy and Mines has confirmed that investments envisaged in the island's renewable energy sector until 2030 will cover the installation of 755-megawatts (MW) bioelectrical plants based on the present potential of 22 sugarcane mills.
'By then, the country aspires to be generating 24% of domestic electricity from renewable sources and the sugarcane sector will play a key role in this regard, by supplying up to 14%.'
According to Bárbara Hernández, an engineer with the Azcuba group, the generation capacity of the bioelectrical plants linked to the sugarcane sector could reach 860mw in 25 plants nationwide, from the western province of Artemisa to Santiago de Cuba in the east
These facilities use the biomass residues from the milling process, known as sugarcane bagasse.
Hernández highlighted that since 2014, Azcuba has negotiated the assembly of 11 bioelectrical plants, representing 60% of the 755mw foreseen in the government endorsed plan. Four are state-run and seven are the result of foreign investment.
According to the minister, the investment program also foresees the installation of 700-MW photovoltaic parks in different provinces.
All the projects are backed by pre-feasibility studies and guaranteed inter-connection with the national grid.
He added that there are presently 22 photovoltaic parks with a 37mw capacity in operation and other seven with a capacity of 15mw will be concluded this year.
'We have credit worth 150 million dollars for the construction of 40 photovoltaic parks, some of which will be finished this year.
We also have a Chinese donation and interest-free credits that will allow the addition of a further 9 MW this year.'
The minister explained that by the end of this year, 17% of photovoltaic energy generation foreseen in the 2030 development plan will be in operation.
Another loan from the Renewable Energy Agency will facilitate the creation of other four parks with a capacity of 10mw and credit conceded to the electronics industry will result in a further 40mw from 16 parks.
Four parks with a 50mw capacity have been provisionally sanctioned at the Mariel Special Development Zone and their paperwork is already at well advanced stage.
The minister said that he 'envisages construction works starting this year, without any complications or delays.'
The program also includes the generation of 633 MW through wind energy. 'At present, the installation of 14 parks to be installed in the north-eastern region of the country is undergoing negotiation,'
the minister commented.
Three will be state-run: Herradura I, Herradura II and Rio Seco I, all in the Jesús Menéndez municipality, in province of Las Tunas.
The rest will be developed with foreign investment.
López Valdés said that in order to guarantee the reinforcement of the national electrical system, four blocks of 200mw will be installed in thermoelectric power plants.
The first of these should be synchronized with the electro-energetic system in 2022 and located at the Santa Cruz del Norte thermoelectric plant, in the western province of Mayabeque.
Engineer and chairman of the Ministry of Industries' Electronics Group, Vicente de la O Levy, explained that the purpose of changing the energy matrix foresees both investment in industrial infrastructure through long term credits and the participation of foreign companies.
La O Levy noted that an example of this is a photovoltaic panel and electronic component factory undergoing an important expansion, to be concluded by the end of 2018, to increase the annual production levels.
According to governmental assessments, new investments in the industrial field should guarantee the sustainability of each of the clean energy projects, contribute to the substitution of imports and the create jobs.
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