Cuba: Energy Resources
|Energy Consumption||0.42 Quadrillion Btu|
|2-letter ISO code||CU|
|3-letter ISO code||CUB|
|Numeric ISO code||192|
|Energy Maps||51 view|
|CIA World Factbook, Appendix D|
Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is an island country in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the capital of Cuba and its largest city, followed by Santiago de Cuba. To the north of Cuba lies the United States (150 km or 93 mi away) and the Bahamas, Mexico is to the west, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica are to the south, and Haiti and the Dominican Republic are to the southeast.
|Wind Potential||4,281||Area(km²) Class 3-7 Wind at 50m||46||1990||NREL|
|Coal Reserves||Unavailable||Million Short Tons||N/A||2008||EIA|
|Natural Gas Reserves||70,790,000,000||Cubic Meters (cu m)||57||2010||CIA World Factbook|
|Oil Reserves||178,900,000||Barrels (bbl)||61||2010||CIA World Factbook|
Energy Maps featuring Cuba
Policy and Regulatory Overview 
The National Electricity System is interconnected throughout the island by a transmission grid operating at 220/110 kV, with 2,833 km of 220 kV and 4,188 km of 110 kV. The distribution grid covers 95% of the island. Population access to electricity stands at approximately 97%.
Today the country is implementing renewable energy technology application projects, with the participation of the Ministry of Basic Industry, Cubasolar and Cubaenergía, among other organizations. Linked to this is the work of research institutes and universities dedicated to technological development. Cuba’s strategic goal is a power shift to renewable energies in the mid-term.
Up to 2010, the country has installed 7,624 photovoltaic systems (2.57 MW), both with the support of foreign NGOs and from Governmental programs. The latter made possible the installation of these systems in 2,361 rural schools, making lights, computers, educational television and videos accessible to all primary school children. There are also 460 family doctor clinics and 1882 social centres in rural areas powered with solar photovoltaic technology.
There is a comprehensive program for the application of biogas, forest biomass, hydropower, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and wind energy in the Isla de la Juventud Special Municipality. It is expected that the territory will satisfy 40% of its electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2013.
It has been acknowledged that, following the precedent of independent power producer Energas, a private−public joint venture between Canada's Sherritt and Cuba's Cupet−UNE that already produces 13% of the national electric production, Cuba should consider more public−private joint ventures in electric power generation. This could be done by allowing for private financing, design, building, operation and possibly temporary ownership of an asset; thereby freeing public funds for much−needed core economic and social programs while maintaining regulatory control as a public sector responsibility.
Total electricity installed capacity (2009):~4,900 MW.
Thermoelectric: 84% Combined cycle plants: 12% Natural gas: 0.5% Diesel: 1.5% Others: 2%.
According to data from the Cuban National Office of Statistics (ONE), renewable sources of energy during 2008 represented 19.9% of the total production of primary energy in the country, although only 3.8% of the electricity came from these sources.
Maximum demand is presently 2,900 MW. The demand, day by day, can average as low as 1450 MW minimum, around 4AM, a medium of 1,950 MW around 12 noon, and a maximum of 2,650 around 7PM. Domestic fuel accounts for 65% of the mix. There are an average of 70 black out days per year - 1,700 hours - nationwide.
Cuba has proven reserves of 750 million barrels of oil and 2500 billion cubic feet of natural gas; however, an estimated 100 million barrels have been discovered in reserves in the Matanzas area and the potential for an estimated 1.6 billion barrels of oil in reserve exists in the basins of the Gulf of Mexico. Nonetheless, Cuba's main oil field, Varadero, has been active for nearly 40 years, and is beginning to dry up.
Cuba produced 76,000 bbl/d of oil in 2006, while the country consumed 209,000 bbl/d. Cuba's oil production has increased significantly in the past two decades, with the country only producing 16,000 bbl/d in 1984. Most of Cuba's oil production occurs in the northern Matanzas province, resulting in heavy, sour crude that requires special processing.
The duties of the MEP include overseeing the activities of the electricity and oil utilities, ensuring standards of service, the extension and improvement of services, and the setting of tariffs. The Ministry, as part of the Energy Council, is also responsible for the setting of national energy strategies, for example the “Sustainable Energy Development” research program, and engaging in capacity-building programs in the country.
UE, under the control of the Ministry of Basic Industry, is a vertically and horizontally integrated utility that controls the entire sector, with the exception of the Independent Power Producer (IPP) arrangement with Energas/Sherritt. The power stations in the sugar refineries are governed by the Ministry for the Sugar Industry.
Cubapetróleo is a vertically-integrated, Government-owned and operated institution.
The WWF Living Planet report assesses Cuba’s energy consumption to be one eighth of that in the US. In tackling the problem of EE, Cuba realized the answer was not necessarily in finding more ways of generating energy but in decreasing the demand for energy. It set about distributing, free of charge, over nine million compact fluorescent light bulbs, making Cuba the first country in the world to phase out the tungsten filament bulb. Within two years, Cubans replaced nearly two million refrigerators, over one million fans, 182,000 air conditioners and 260,000 water pumps with more energy efficient appliances.
Grupos Electrógenos Since 2005, the Cuban Government has purchased several thousands of small generators, of 2MW power, or higher. They are referred to as Grupos Electrógenos. The initial installations used diesel as fuel, but lately the equipment purchased uses fuel oil. They are installed in groups, depending on the desired output, and they are referred to as “batteries”. The objective is to provide power to close loads to the “battery” to avoid losses in the transmission lines. With a total installed capacity of 1,500 MW, it is an expensive and inefficient method of providing the required energy to Cuba.
The revolución energética was successful in introducing energy efficiency, but the increases in generation, with the exception of the Sherritt deal, are based on small generator sets, called gensets, that are highly inefficient. The sector is significantly more stable now than it was during the periods of the blackouts. Still, the high proportion of generation from burning liquid fuels results in extremely high costs and very high carbon emission. The financial sustainability of the sector depends almost totally on the largesse of Venezuela. If support from Venezuela were reduced or terminated, the power sector would require extremely high subsidies. The Government does not have adequate fiscal resources for this kind of subsidy, and it would be forced to embark on an economic reform effort more comprehensive than the one experienced during the period following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Cuba's overall energy infrastructure – from refineries to power-generating plants to electrical grids to local wiring – is in an advanced state of decay, and will require significant investment to upgrade. Because of Cuba's location in the Gulf of Mexico, it has suffered damage from 19 different hurricanes over the past 15 years. In 2008 three different hurricanes went through Cuba, causing extensive damages in the electric grid and some of the power plants.
Centre of Environmental Engineering of Camagüey (Centro de Ingeniería Ambiental de Camagüey CIAC) http://www.camaguey.cu/cent_cientif/ciac/Indice.htm This new centre promotes through its research projects and technical-scientific services, the feasibility of renewable energy.
Centre of Bioplants (Centro de Bioplantas) www.bioplantas.cu/sp/Index.asp The Bio-plants Centre applies and offers technologies, products, technical assistance and academic services in the vegetable biotechnology field.
Centre of Information Management and Energy Development (Cubaenergía) www.cubaenergia.cu Cubaenergía is an entity of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, founded in January 2001. The mission of Cubaenergía is the management of energy information, the development of products and technologies for energy sustainability and carrying out outreach activities in order to increase the scientific culture in the country.
Cuban Non Governmental Organization for the Promotion of Renewable Sources of Energy and Environmental Respect (Cubasolar) www.cubasolar.cu Cubasolar was funded in December 1994 and since then it has contributed through international collaboration projects to the implementation and development of renewable energy technologies throughout the country with a strong impact on social issues such as the PV rural electrification of schools, medical clinics and recreation facilities in isolated and mountainous places, among other results.
Central Group for Renewable Energy Sources and Energy Efficiency The Energy Revolution in Cuba has also meant the set up of the Central Group for Renewable Energy Sources and Energy Efficiency (made up of 15 groups) in February 2007, and the creation of a Department of Renewable Energies.
Energy regulation role
The Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) rules the energy and economic policy of the country. MEP presides over the Energy Council (CAAE), which is the body in charge of controlling the Programme for National Energy Sources and Energy Efficiency, fostering RES and elaborating laws and legislation to improve EE in the national economy.
Electricity market history 1959-1989; beginning with Castro’s takeover and ending with the fall of the Soviet Union, this period saw rapid growth in the energy sector. The period included the country’s largest build-up in energy generation infrastructure and highest rates of growth in consumption, based on oil and products imported from the Soviet Union at subsidized prices.
The “periodo especial” 1990-1997; when domestic oil production increased and Cuba began to use fuel oil in the seven large generation plants. However, the oil’s high sulphur levels damaged the generation infrastructure severely.
1998-today; which is marked by Venezuelan support, the blackouts of 2004-05, the Revolución Energética of 2005-06, and the Independent Power Production (IPP) arrangement with the Canadian Sherritt, based on combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT). The financial sustainability of the sector depends on Venezuela’s support.
Electricity market The Union Eléctrica (UE) is the state-owned electricity utility in the country, responsible for all areas of electrical service for the population.
Petroleum market Cubapetróleo S.A. (CUPET) is the Government-owned company responsible for exploring, refining, and marketing petroleum. It works in association with the private sector in an effort to increase production from the existing fields.
Degree of independence
All the Government agencies, including the Energy Council, report to the Executive Power through the Council of State, which is made up of Ministries within which all the energy related structures are inserted. The ultimate authority remains with Raύl Castro, President of Cuba, and the head of the Council of State and Ministers.
A detailed high-resolution wind energy resource map for Cuba was created at the United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as part of the Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment (SWERA) project for the United Nations Environment Programme. Cuban Electric Industry: Current Situation and Perspectives (2006) http://www.oas.org/dsd/reia/Documents/geocaraibes/cuba_presentation.pdf
National Environmental Strategy
In 1997, the National Environmental Strategy was approved, and its implementation started. The strategy establishes the principles that sustain the national environmental politics, characterizes the main environmental problems and proposes the instruments for their prevention, solution or mitigation. The same year, the National Assembly passed Law 81 on ‘Environment’ that reaffirmed national ownership of the natural resources and the environment. In this law, the institutional framework was defined, specifying the obligations, powers and functions of organizations in rational use and conservation. Moreover, the environmental policy and management instruments were regulated.
The “Revolución Energética”
In recent times, Cuba has been plagued by frequent power blackouts – the result of inefficient generation in outdated thermal power plants, large transmission losses, and increasing demand. To respond to the power crisis, the Government launched its “Revolución Energética” in 2006. This Revolution has five aspects: energy efficiency and conservation; increasing the availability and reliability of the national grid; incorporating more RE technologies into the energy portfolio; increasing the exploration and production of local oil and gas; and, international co-operation.
In 2008, however, electricity produced from RES represented only 3.85% of the total. To reduce its energy needs, Cuba is experimenting with a wide variety of renewable resource technologies, including sugar cane biomass for electricity and cooking gas, hydroelectric power generation, wind and photo-voltaic generators, and bioclimatic architecture.
RES (solar, wind and hydroelectric) are seen by the Cuban Government as the preferred means to extend the coverage of power supply to the 4% of population living in marginal (mountainous) areas of the country. The introduction of RES in agricultural production and processing offers the opportunity to extend agricultural processing into marginal areas and, more broadly, to reduce production costs through the introduction of biofuels and small scale generation plants.
Domestic oil production has increased seven-fold since 1995, but Cuba still produces slightly less than half of what it consumes, and most of its production is low-quality heavy crude. Under a cooperation agreement initiated in 2000, Cuba imports more than half its oil from Venezuela. In exchange more than 30,000 Cuban doctors are providing medical service in Venezuela.
As of 2009, we have for consumption and production
Oil consumption: 222,000 barrels/day Domestic production: 80,000 barrels/day Imported oil: Approx. 150,000 barrels/day From Venezuela: Approx. 95,000 barrels/day.
Although energy consumption per capita is among the lowest in the region, Cuba's oil imports still account for 20% of its import expenditures.
The country's dependence on imported energy has become one of Cuba’s development bottlenecks and therefore one of its main new economic challenges.
Role of the government
The absence of a Ministry of Energy makes the organizational structure of energy in Cuba different from that in other countries. The institutional base of the Cuban power sector is complex, and follows the structure of the Government. The Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) rules the energy and economic policy of Cuba and presides over the Energy Council (CAAE) that is the body in charge of the Program for National Energy Sources and Energy Efficiency, fostering RES and proposing legislation to improve EE. The Energy Council is made up of 16 other Government agencies with some indirect responsibilities in the sector such as the Sugar Ministry (MINAZ), the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG), the Ministry of Basic Industry (MINBAS).
There is not an electricity industry law intended to set out a legal framework for the electricity sector. Energy policy is determined by the Energy Council. Whilst the will for promotion of sustainable energy exists in the country, with efforts being made by numerous participants in the sector, there is not a legal framework for the development of sustainable energy.
Public-private energy projects partnerships, along with the creation of a national energy policy which would embrace economic growth, energy conservation, modernization of the energy infrastructure, a balanced sourcing of oil, natural gas (LNG), bio-fuels, and alternative energy sources, while protecting the island's environment, would contribute toward Cuba's energy independence.
Although no dedicated regulatory body exists, the MEP is in charge of the State Energy Inspection and regulatory enforcement throughout the country, acting as the de facto regulator of the energy sector.
The country has three test wind farms, more than fifteen thousand solar water heater systems and solar photovoltaic panels in rural areas far from the grid, and hundreds of small biogas plants. The number of wind mills for water pumping is increasing and towns as Puerto Padre in Las Tunas province and Cruces in Cienfuegos province, are “disputing” which was the first in using wind energy for water pumping.
In Cuba’s largest island, Isla de la Juventud, biomass and wind farming supplement the existing Grupo Electrógeno power facilities. The 3.6 MW biomass gasifier plant was started in 2005 and was the first diesel-biomass hybrid installation in Cuba. The 1.5 MW wind farm is located on the northern part of the Juventud Island where optimal wind conditions were found for producing electricity.
Hydropower Although Cuba does not have large rivers, there is a considerable hydroelectric potential. Cuba´s hydropower potential is estimated at 650 MW, with an annual generation of some 1300 GWh. Out of this potential, Cuba only used 60.1 MW in 180 facilities producing around 138 GWh in 2008. The country uses small and medium waterfalls and rivers to generate the electricity that powers a number of rural communities, and has the option to use dams and canals already built, in order to produce electricity.
Solar energy Solar energy is available in Cuba throughout the year with an average insolation value of 5 kWh/m2 per day. Each square meter of Cuban territory receives, on a daily basis, an amount of solar energy that is equivalent to the energy content of half a kilogram of petroleum. This high level of insolation creates ideal conditions for the installation of photovoltaic and thermal energy systems.
Wind energy The incidence of solar radiation on Cuban territory and its adjacent seas brings out streams of winds known as land and sea breezes. These, together with the trade winds and the Atlantic Anticyclone, which are almost always near the Cuban archipelago and are the main contributor of wind, provide important areas for wind development. Wind capacity factors and transmission costs are highly site dependent. A detailed high-resolution wind energy resource map for Cuba, created as part of the SWERA project for the United Nations Environment Programme, estimated the total Cuban wind potential at 2,550 MW.
Cuba possesses three wind farms (Turiguano, Gibara I and II) which produced about 10,000MW for the National Electric System in 2010, and accounted for the saving of 2,225 oil tons.
Today, the country has three key decision-making tools for the installation of wind farms. These are: the wind map of ecological evidence, the map depicting the risk of hurricanes, flooding and electric storms, and the national wind map. Areas with great wind energy potential have been identified mainly in the eastern-most region of the country.
Biomass energy Cuba has experience in the cultivation of sugar cane. The country´s relatively fertile land, humidity, and abundant solar radiation support the biomass plants which, if the sugar mills boilers are used efficiently, can provide high energy output to the national electrical grid. The decrease in biomass use is due to the reduction of sugar cane production. With the restructuring of the industrial sector in 2002, the use of biomass is expected to fall even further in the future, and any increase will depend on a rise in productivity and efficiency in the sugar industry. There is also the potential to use forest biomass, taking into account that over 25% of the country is covered with forests and is increasing. Exploitable wood fuel potential, without endangering the ecological balance, is estimated at 3.5 million m3 per year.
Geothermal energy Cuba has been involved in geothermal development in the region in the past, having been a stakeholder in the Eastern Caribbean Geothermal Project. No current geothermal projects exist in the country, however.
- Joint Programme on Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) in Developing and Transition Countries
- Observatory of Renewable Energy for Latin America and the Caribbean
- Caribbean-GTZ Renewable Energy Program
- Caribbean-NREL Cooperation
- Cuba-IAEA Energy Planning
- OLADE Sustainable Energy Planning Manual
- Energy Indicators for Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Methodologies
- Legal Energy Information System (SIEL) Database
- Energy-Economic Information System (SIEE)
- OLADE-Latin American and Caribbean Energy Efficiency Seminar
0 Energy Organizations
0 Clean Energy Companies
0 Research Institutions