THE development of renewable energy sources in Cuba can be traced back to the mid-1980s. Rural electrification programmes using solar energy systems and demonstration wind parks have all played their part. Presently, however, the use of biomass is considered to be one of the most attractive resources, and studies are being carried out into the efficient use of sugar cane biomass.

Cuba’s mountainous landscape can support an estimated hydro potential of14,600GWh/yr, which would substitute the need for 1M tons of fuel oil costing an estimated US$120M.Although hydro power does make an important contribution to the country’s renewable energy base, developments have been delayed by repercussions from the Cuban economic crisis of 1991.

Nowadays hydro development very much depends on foreign investment, from countries such as China, and working on legally acceptable projects which use existing hydro power potential as a basis for further development. The government plans to increase exploitation of this hydro potential, as well as to further develop experience gained in the construction of hydraulic turbines.

A national hydroelectric programme is being administered by the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH). This is the administrative state body of the Council of State and Ministers and is responsible for managing and developing the country’s hydraulic resources, including hydroelectric ones. It carries out studies and projects on the development of axial turbines for small hydro power stations based on standardised studies previously developed.

Cuban statistics

Cuba has 219 reservoirs, the majority of which (75%) were designed for hydroelectric purposes. There are 176 hydro power stations with an installed power of 57.3MW and an annual mean generation of 90GWh/yr, benefiting 18600 households and 4500 economic facilities. Twenty-six of these stations are connected to the national grid and managed by INRH.

Some studies suggest that 6% of the rural population could make use of the benefits of hydro electrification.

INRH is investing in hydro power development in Cuba and the stations below have been completed.

Twenty-two of the non-hydro power reservoirs present technical and economical characteristics favouring hydro power development totalling 30.33MW, with an annual power generation of 113.44GWh.

Completed hydro power development in Cuba