As part of the updating of its economic model,
Cuba has prioritized a change in policies to promote
energy efficiency and the development of renewable
To reduce losses in distribution
networks, 215,000 posts have been
replaced across the country.
Currently, the country is highly dependent on
fossil fuels, with only 3.9% of electricity
generated using renewable resources, creating not
only a significant source of pollution, but higher
prices as well, given that the cost of these fuels
in transferred to other products.
Cuba annually generates 17,586 gigawatts per hour
(gwh) of electricity, with peak time demand of
approximately 3,156 megawatts (mw), while total
losses in transmission and distribution amount to
The country’s strategy is to reduce dependency on
fossil fuels, with a view toward more national
independence in terms of energy and a reduction in
the cost of electricity provided consumers,
currently impacted by the high cost of oil on the
The plan emerged as a result of guidelines
approved by the 6th Congress of the
Communist Party of Cuba in 2011, which emphasized
the need to promote the use of renewable resources
within the national electricity system and in remote
areas, to make service more efficient.
On December 11, 2012, a governmental commission
was created to assume responsibility for drafting a
proposal for the use and prospective development of
renewable resources for the period 2013-2030.
Cuba has significant potential to
develop solar energy, which can be used
to generate 5 kw/h per square meter here
- given the country's geographic
location and weather patterns -
equivalent to the average daily usage of
In 2004, Cuba’s national electric grid suffered a
serious breakdown, complicating economic operations
and the social life of the country. As a result of
this incident, on the initiative of Fidel Castro, a
program entitled the Energy Revolution was launched
to replace obsolete power plants and outdated,
inefficient household appliances, to ensure the
rational use of electricity.
The program’s first moves included the addition
of 2,400mw of generating capacity with high-efficiency
motor-generators distributed across the country,
increasing the National Electric System’s efficiency
via lower fuel costs and a reduction in transmission
losses, since electricity is produced closer to
To eliminate losses in distribution grids, some
215,000 posts and 7,000 kilometers of primary cable,
1.8 million services, 33,700 secondary circuits and
2.8 million meters were replaced, according to
Leandro Matos, director of the Ministry of Mining
and Energy’s strategy and policy department.
Residential users played a leading role in the
effort, replacing 94 million incandescent light
bulbs with compact fluorescents and 4.4 million
Matos explained that the effort was supported
legally with Resolution no.190 which prohibited the
importing of incandescent bulbs and instituted new
guidelines for service rates.
According to Ministry data on the impact of the
light bulb change-out, usage was reduced by 25mw for
every million bulbs lit during peak hours. The
investment made was recouped in less than three
"In 2009 technical regulations entered into
effect to establish and enforce requisites for
energy efficiency, electrical security and the
adaptation to a tropical climate of equipment
imported, fabricated or assembled in the country, to
permit their distribution," the expert continued.
Matos reported that there are four laboratories
in Cuba authorized by the National Office for
Rational Energy Use (ONURE), in which tests and
trials of equipment are carried out, in accordance
with norms approved by the Cuban Electro-technical
When the results of the laboratory tests
indicating performance are completed, he said, ONURE
emits a technical certification with which a
determination is made as to whether or not a piece
of equipment may be sold in Cuba.
At the same time, steps were taken in the
industrial and commercial sectors to promote energy
efficiency, including the replacement of 2,500
inefficient water pumps in water supply and waste
water systems; banks of condensers were installed by
large consumers; and a national energy supervision
body was established.
In an effort to achieve better energy management,
electricity consumption was planned on the basis of
equipment consumer indexes and levels of activity.
Daily monitoring and control of usage, analysis of
this data and adherence to plans for electricity
consumption were established.
"Within five years, the consumption of crude oil
and its derivatives declined; energy use was reduced
by 27%, with savings of 9.3 million tons of fuel,
equivalent to 4.66 billion dollars," Matos explained.
"We have reached a favorable, opportune moment to
implement the second stage of the Energy Revolution,
since there is greater support and a more effective
national focus is guaranteed."
VISION AND PRIORITIES
Renewable energy is energy which is obtained from
natural sources, considered inexhaustible, such as
the sun, wind, rain, tides and geo-thermal heat.
These are not subject to abrupt prices changes,
since they are free for the taking, as opposed to
fossil fuels which are becoming more expensive as
their supply diminishes.
In the year 200 BC, in China and the Middle East,
windmills were used to pump water and grind grain.
The Romans used geothermal sources to heat their
Based on the premise that nature's bounty offers
many advantages, and the need to make use of this
bounty in a sustainable fashion, an ambitious
investment program was initiated in Cuba in 2013 to
develop clean, alternative energy resources.
"We built the first seven banks of solar
photovoltaic panels and six small hydroelectric
plants; one 500 kilowatt plant using woody bio-mass
and three bio-gas plants to generate electricity,"
reported Raciel Guerra, the Ministry's Renewable
"We also initiated the construction of the
country's first 51 megawatt wind farms and are sure
that, in 2014, we will begin the first two bio-electric
plants using sugar cane bio-mass. Intense
preparatory work is underway."
Guerra explained pre-feasibility, technical-economic
studies recently concluded on important projects to
be undertaken over the next few years, "These were
about the construction of 19 bio-electric plants
based on sugar cane; 13 wind farms, and the others
are solar panel banks and small hydroelectric plants
on the country's water reservoirs."
"Also being studied are needed investments in
national industries for the production of renewable
energy systems, to avoid becoming importers, but
rather collaborate with international companies to
fabricate components and replacement parts within
the country, which allows us to develop our industry,
increase job opportunities and reduce costs, for
example in the production of water heaters."
The goal? Make energy available to support the
country's development and provide quality electric
service; lower costs to make national production
more efficient; produce lower cost electricity for
the population; contribute to the development of
national industry by reducing costs associated with
importing new technology, and eliminate sources of