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IX International Conference on Renewable Energy, Energy Saving and Energy Education: CIER 2017

Cuba’s energy matrix is heading in the direction of renewable energy, "No matter how long it takes, the course is already charted..", commented Luis Bérriz, president of Cubasolar, a Cuban NGO that for decades has prompted research and adoption of renewable energy sources. The Cuban government has declared its intention to increase its energy production to 24% from renewable sources by 2030, a significant change when compared with the current 4%. Specialists as Berriz, however, think that 4% underestimates some of the applications that renewables currently provide in Cuba. Another step in the direction of facilitating the integration of these technologies is Decree-Law No 345:  "Development Renewable Sources and Efficient Use of Energy", approved by the State Council on March 23rd of this year.

 Cuba Strategies Inc. has been working in this area for the past two years, providing information on this sector of renewable energies in the Island. Recently, we had the opportunity to participate in the IX International Conference on Renewable Energy, Energy Saving and Energy Education: CIER 2017, which took place in Havana (May 31-June 2),consisting of  three days of hard work and much exchange, where we had an opportunity to hear about the current status of projects in Cuba as well as business portfolio opportunities related to these investment projects. The Conference took place at the Habana Libre Hotel, in the neighborhood of Vedado, one of the most important culturally to the country's capital. The host organization was the Center for the Study of Renewable Energy Technologies (CETER).

 As part of our delegation, we escorted entrepreneurs and professionals in the field such as Jim Rogers, who was CEO of Duke Energy for 25 years and author of the book: Enlightening the World: Transforming Our energy Future to Power All; and Dan Vermeer, executive director of the Center for Energy, Development and the Global Environment (EDGE), the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. We were also joined by a group of US graduate students who won first prize in the competition: Revolutionary Energy: A Look at Energy Future of Cuba. Professor Dan Vermeer was one of the keynote speakers of the event with his speech: "Sailing Energy Options of Cuba" based on his work advising proposals for the Cuban energy system. We were also accompanied by American businessmen, financiers and project leaders interested in investment opportunities on the Island, as well as the particular experience of the Cuban professionals.

 Professor Dan Vermeer speaking at CIER 2017

 In addition to participating in the conferences, sessions and business rounds that were held within the framework of the event, we also visited other professionals and relevant places, such as the University of Havana (just three blocks from the venue), some installations of photovoltaic panels in the neighborhood of El Naranjito and we visited with members of the community of Las Terrazas,  a biosphere reserve, as well as conservation and sustainability specialists in charge of projects of ecological and sustainable communities in other territories of the country.

In particular, we had the opportunity to visit Luis Bérriz, president of Cubasolar and who has established the headquarters of the organization in his house in the neighborhood of La Víbora. Professor Berriz is a very prestigious researcher on the island and part of the history of renewables in the country. His home not only functions as the headquarters of the NGO, but also as a space for experimentation and the exchange of ideas. Located on one of the most prominent hills of La Vibora, the roof of the house is privileged and the horizon can be seen in an extraordinary way enabling Berriz to operate several panels and other experiments in the conservation and dehydration of foods with solar energy. One of the most important points of his philosophy is that electricity should not be an end in itself, but we must use the energy sources that best meet the needs that we really have, for example, what we require are means to conserve food, not necessarily "electricity" for the refrigerator. The exchange with the professor and researcher was one of the most enriching experiences of the trip.

 Another special visit was to the Finca Marta, the agroecological project led by Fernando Funes, where we were fortunate to understand the ingenuity of this Cuban academic and farmer, and his team, who are overcoming the technical and commercial challenges of organic agriculture. Fernando met us at the portal and led us to the soul of the project: a well of several meters that guarantees water for all activities of the estate. The well was an effort of several months, complete days under the sun and hitting the stone to yield, with much uncertainty, but also with faith in its purpose and in traditional wisdom. Fernando also showed us his work with bee honeycombs and the marketing of his honey, as well as the crops and techniques he uses to obtain a high quality organic product. You can read more about the project in this Washington post report.

 Jim Rogers talks to Luis Bérriz in his roof, 2017

 Experiments in Luis Berriz’s roof, 2017

 Fernando Funes, explaining his organic production system, 2017

 Solar panel in Finca Marta, 2017

 We want to thank and particularly congratulate the researcher and director of CETER, Joel Morales, for his support and professionalism leading the event, as well as giving us the opportunity to exchange directly with his team and help us better understand the scenario of renewables in Cuba; also, to Professor Antonio Sarmiento, who had the kindness and willingness to talk with us and explain to us about several renewable applications in Havana neighborhoods. To the group of CETER researchers, in general, an extraordinary congratulation for their work and for allowing us to feel, not only as colleagues, but also among friends during the days of the Conference.

Cuba Strategies, Inc. will continue to publish information on relevant events for US professionals and companies, as well as events in which we participate on Cuba, both on the island and in the United States. If you are interested in receiving advice on these meetings and the best way to participate and learn more about the different areas of Cuban economy and society and how these can represent opportunities, you can send us a message or contact directly.

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