Cuba on a greener path with new 10MW solar power plant

HAVANA, July 5th  (Xinhua) — Cuba opened four solar parks capable of powering some 7,000 households across the nation on Thursday as another step towards a future of sustainable energy.

Located in three different provinces, the parks are part of a project funded by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).

Both international organizations support developing countries’ efforts to switch to clean energy in a bid to tackle climate change and implement the Paris Agreement.

In Cuba’s case, the two agencies provided more than 15 million U.S. dollars to build the parks capable of generating a combined 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity: Camaguey, with 2.5 MW; Mayajigua and Venegas, with 2.5 MW and 1.25 MW respectively; and Cardenas 1 in the western province of Matanzas, with 3.75 MW.

At the inauguration ceremony at Cardenas 1, where 11,700 solar panels were installed by Cuban technicians, IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera said the parks are a “successful testament” to multilateral cooperation.

“All this shows that Cuba is capable of planning, building and implementing projects of this magnitude, and shows that paradigms must be changed to reverse the effects of climate change for sustainable development. It’s necessary to continue working with this type of energy,” La Camera said.

By 2024, Cuba plans to generate 24 percent of its electricity via renewable sources like sugarcane biomass, solar power, wind farms, and small hydroelectric plants.

“For the IRENA, it’s a positive experience to work along with the Cuban government in their ambition to increase electricity production through the use of renewable energies,” said La Camera.

Livan Arronte, Cuba’s deputy minister of energy and mines, thanked the IRENA and the ADFD for their support and said the capacities of these parks are equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of around 6,944 Cuban homes.

“It (The system) will represent an annual savings of 4,700 tons of diesel, and 12,700 tons of carbon dioxide won’t be released into the atmosphere,” said Arronte.

Bader Almatrooshi, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Cuba, said the opening of the parks represented a milestone in bilateral cooperation to jointly tackle the negative impact of climate change.

The diplomat added that this is one of 24 programs the ADFD and the IRENA are currently executing around the world to supply electricity to more than 7 million people.

Solar power is widely utilized in Cuba. There are 65 parks across the country and another 15 under construction to increase installed capacity to 42 MW by the end of this year.