Future Energy

07 Jul 2020

Cuba Launches First Biomass Power Plant

07 Jul 2020  by   

Cuba has commissioned a 60MW biomass plant, moving the island closer to a renewable generation target of 24pc by 2030.

The $180mn plant is owned by Biopower, a joint venture between Cuba's state-owned sugar company Azcuba subsidiary Zerus and UK renewable energy developer Havana Energy. Chinese state-owned engineering firm PowerChina built it.

The plant, the first of its kind in Cuba, is located close to the Ciro Redondo sugar mill in Ciego de Avila, about 430km (267mi) east of Havana.

The facility will burn bagasse, the residue from sugar cane milling, and wood chips from the invasive marabou weed which Cuba has been trying for years to contain because it is overtaking agricultural land. The power plant will use bagasse during the harvest period and marabou between harvests, the energy ministry said.

Construction of two more biomass plants of 20MW each has started at the Jesus Rabi sugar mill in Matanzas province, and at the Hector Rodriguez mill in Villa Clara province, the ministry said.

A 50MW facility is projected to start construction before the end of 2020 at the 30 de Noviembre mill in Artemisa province. All plants will burn bagasse and marabou.

Cuba is trying to accelerate development of renewables following decades of blackouts that have worsened over the past four years as a result of reduced subsidized oil supply from political ally Venezuela.

The island still relies on oil to generate most of its power.

Cuba has installed generating capacity of 5,870MW, of which 3,200MW is operational, state-owned utility UNE says. Some plants burn local sour crude and others use imported diesel. Solar, wind and hydro plants currently generate 7pc of demand.

A $60mn 50MW solar joint venture between UK solar developer Hive Energy and China's solar power equipment manufacturer Shanghai Electric Group is under development at the Mariel commercial and industrial zone 45km west of Havana.

And India has given Cuba $75mn in supplier's credit to finance the development of several solar plants with combined capacity of 75MW, the Indian government said in January 2020.

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