30% of Cuba suffers blackouts for the fifth consecutive day

30% of Cuba suffers blackouts for the fifth consecutive day

HAVANA, Jan 30  Cuba will suffer simultaneous blackouts in up to 33.9% of the country this Tuesday due to breakdowns and maintenance of power plants as well as the fuel shortage, according to the daily report of the state company Unión Eléctrica (UNE).

This means that around a third of the demand – one in every three light bulbs – cannot be met at the time of greatest energy need: during the afternoons, when Cubans return home from work. The residential sector as a whole is the one that consumes the most in the country.

This Tuesday is the fifth consecutive day – counting Friday – in which damage has been reported in at least a third of Cuba.

After years of serious difficulties in ensuring supply – especially in the summers of 2021 and 2022 – the energy situation had stabilized in recent months, but with the turn of the year, large specific drops in generation capacity have been recorded.

The UNE, dependent on the Ministry of Energy and Mines, calculates for the time of highest consumption, in the evening, an electrical generation capacity of 1,975 megawatts (MW) and a maximum demand of 2,880 MW.

In this way, the deficit – the difference between supply and demand – will be 905 MW and the impact – what will actually be disconnected – will reach 975 MW during “peak hours”.

The Cuban electrical system is in a precarious situation, evident in the frequent failures and breakages of its obsolete land plants, due to the chronic lack of investments and maintenance.

The lack of foreign currency from the State has also hindered fuel imports, which also affects energy production.

In the last five years, the Cuban Government has rented up to seven floating power plants to the Turkish company Karpowership to alleviate the lack of generation capacity, a quick but temporary, polluting and expensive solution.

The frequent cuts in the electricity supply damage the economy – which in 2023 contracted between 1 and 2% – and fuel social discontent in a society already seriously affected by an economic crisis for three years.

Blackouts have been one of the triggers for protests in recent years, including those on July 11, 2021, the largest in decades.