Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cuba's Energy "Solution"

Cuba's Energy "Solution"
Sunday, July 24th, 2011 | Posted by Linda Roberts

Ecuador's electricity minister has signed an agreement which could turn
out to be worth more than $100 million in sales for foreign suppliers of
energy generators to Cuba. Official media are reporting that the
agreement states that Cuba will provide 110 megawatts of thermal power
for Ecuador in the future. A pair of other agreements, recently signed
by Ecuadorean Electricity Minister Esteban Albornoz and Cuban Basic
Industries Minister Tomás Benítez in Havana, establish "efficient ways
for training in the electric sector" and collaboration on energy
efficiency. Both countries are being rather tight-lipped, and neither
has come forward with any details.The agreement apparently amends a 2009
"memorandum of understanding" on energy cooperation. Under the 2009
contract, Cuba has provided 390 mw of distributed energy produced by
fuel-oil generators, biogas and biomass technology, and manages a
substitution program which helps to convert Ecuadorean households to
electric stoves. For it's part, Ecuador makes it's hydroelectric
knowledge available to Cuba. Ecuador already uses Cuban help in training
energy management experts.

The 2009 agreement maintained that Cuba would provide generators from
Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries. Germany's MAN B&W has secured the new
contracts for an unknown number of new generators for the Ecuadorean
program. In 2006, against a backdrop of electrical crisis, Cuba was
forced to deploy hundreds of diesel and fuel-oil generators that run 24
hours a day, and thousands of backup generators that kick in during peak
hours or emergencies. While this is possibly the most environmentally
unfriendly solution possible, there were few other options for the cash
strapped economy. This "decentralized approach" -which is part of a
program nonchalantly dubbed "Energy Revolution" – has eliminated
extended blackouts at a relatively low cost, and made the system more
resilient to hurricane damage, because it lacks a "grid" to take out.
Critics say that in the face of rebuilding it's infrastructure, Cuba has
chosen an extremely wasteful system, but it appears to be growing in

Cuba has begun exporting the "system", and completing minor programs in
Nicaragua and Haiti. The largest program yet took place in Cuba-friendly
Venezuela, where dispersed system that produces 2,000 mw was sold for
billions of dollars. Soon, Ecuador will complete a similar deal in
exchange for teaching Cuba how to use hydroelectric energy. Let's hope
it goes through soon.


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