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Bio-energy in Cuba

July 23, 2013


The contribution of renewable sources in 2012 accounted for 21.9 per cent of total primary energy production in the country, with an increase in biomass produced, and the contribution of hydroelectrics
By: Mayte Maria Jimenez

Production of heat, electricity, transforming organic waste into high quality fertilizer and improved hygienic conditions for the reduction of pathogens, are some of the potentials of biogas, an alternative source for producing energy being promoted in various nations, among them Cuba.

According to a recent report published by the National Bureau of Statistics and Information, the past year reported using 240 of the 315 digesters and biogas plants installed in the state sector, increasing the energy these devices replaced by 12.7 per cent.

According to the document, another sector that led to the increase was the energy obtained from biomass, as well as the contribution of hydropower.

In 2012 the contribution of renewable energy sources in Cuba accounted for 21.9 per cent of total primary energy production in the country, which means an increase of 0.3 percentage points compared to 2011.

For example, bagasse from the sugar industry and wood were the main components of biomass energy that influenced this increase. Some 94.5 per cent of the national production of bagasse was consumed in the production of energy, representing 91 per cent of the total energy obtained by direct combustion of biomass.

Meanwhile, the use of firewood in the state sector declined by 3.4 percentage points compared to 2011, but the use as waste from agriculture and forest waste as fuel increases.

Although favorable results are shown, alternatives still need to develop and expand in each of the potential renewable energy sources in the country. This is compounded by the need to implement a legal regulation that encourages their development in the country’s economy.

Further natural energy

On the use of wind energy in the country, there are 6,522 devices in use, primarily used in the extraction of water to replace diesel or electricity consuming pumps.

Of the 7,210 reported windmills in existence, the 9.9 per cent is not in use, with the highest incidence in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Artemisa, Pinar del Río and Mayabeque, with 449 mills out of use. However, three wind farms are operating in the territories of Ciego de Ávila, Holguín and Isla de la Juventud, connected to the national power grid since early 2008.

According to the criteria, they are continuing their studies in the areas of greatest wind potential of the country for the installation of new devices and the recovery of those which are not in use.

With regard to energy substitution by using wind devices, the territories with the greatest contribution are Holguín, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara, Matanzas, Camaguey and Las Tunas, which accounted for 75.1 per cent of the total of such energy produced in the country.

The document confirms that as a result of the use of the kinetic energy of water, in 2012, 180 units were working in the country, generating 110.9 GW.h altogether.

It is estimated that the system existing dams and micro-dams ensures the use of water for the population and the economy, as well as electricity generation.

Being located in remote areas, contribute to the saving of fuel used in the transportation of water.

Similarly, the use of solar radiation to produce heat and electricity in Cuba is a reality that every day increases with the installation of photovoltaic devices in rural and mountainous areas of the country, in remote areas with difficult access for the National Electric System (SEN) networks and priority sectors.

Obtaining hot water from the use of solar heaters allows considerable energy savings, generalizing its use mainly in tourist areas and homes.

Some 6402 solar arrays are in use, with notable results in the conservation of these under the onslaught of hurricanes.

The provinces of Granma, Havana, Las Tunas, Holguin, Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba have the greatest number of these devices installed and in use, with 71.8 per cent of the total, and employed especially in the sectors of education and public health.

Translated by ESTI for JuventudRebelde

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