The Development of Photovoltaics in Cuba
The Sierra del Rosario has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. Coffee plantations with grated lights, crowned with orchids, bromeliads and curujeys sit underneath the natural forest alongside of the road. It's trumped hills with cubist slopes offer a vertigo of height and time, from which sprout whimsical palms as merciless arrows on the back of a giant. This splendor blesses some of the poorest families in Cuba. In these rich and lush mountains, photovoltaic panels on doctor's offices, rural schools and community video centers begin, where the power lines end.
Cuba has 98% electrification, still, the remaining 2% adds up to about 220,000 people who do not have electricity. To address this situation, over the past decade, Cuba has embarked in a rural electrification program which has installed more than 9,000 photovoltaic systems nationwide. To a great extent, these programs provide electricity to rural schools and medical clinics in remote areas isolated from the National Electric System (SEN). Their aim is to improve the quality of life of the people in these communities where coffee, cocoa, timber, honey and other high-value goods are produced. Besides providing electricity to areas that were once “dark”, the programs have trained and developed locally sourced specialists in photovoltaic systems throughout Cuba. Further, most of the PV systems used in this program have been produced in Pinar del Rio’s electrical components plant, which now has a manufacturing capacity of 2 MW of PV panels per year.
Solar energy is abundant in Cuba, with an average irradiation of 1800 kWh/m2/year. This is enough to cover the country’s demand for electricity, with commercially available systems, using an area of one thousandth of a % of the national territory. Hence, by 2030 it is estimated that approximately 30% of the electricity produced in Cuba will be from photovoltaic panels. The current distributed generation system implemented in Cuba also favors the incorporation of photovoltaic arrays connected with SEN, reducing transmission losses and facilitating the synchronization with the network.
It is estimated that in the coming years Cuba will add 700 MW of photovoltaics to SEN. This means an investment opportunity of 1.4 Billion USD. Since 2013, together with several foreign companies, Cuba has installed 10 MW of photovoltaics connected to SEN. The sun in Cuba provides an excellent investment opportunity that supports the nation’s development and the global effort for a sustainable world.
[PHOTO] Anaray Lorenzo Photovoltaic park, located west of the capital in the Expo Cuba fairgrounds