China-Cuba look to further renewable energy cooperation


China’s Premier Li Keqiang will fly to Havana on Saturday. His visit comes at a time when Cuba’s other major ally and trading partner, Venezuela, has domestic problems and has had to cut back its assistance, especially oil supplies.

This visit is expected to focus on boosting economic cooperation in areas ranging from finance to telecommunications and energy.

CCTV America’s Michael Voss looks at how the two countries are already co-operating in developing renewable energy supplies.

Today, Cuba produces just 4 percent of its energy from renewable sources. The government is committed to increase that to 24 percent by 2030, with help from China.

Cuba is now manufacturing around 60,000 solar panels a year using technology and components provided on credit terms by China. Key Cuban workers are sent there for training and the plan now is to increase production threefold, including installing more automated machines.

The solar panel plant is part of a much larger electronics factory making everything from LED lights to electric cookers. All of the machinery and the components come from China.

The island’s sugar industry will also play a part in helping Cuba reach its renewable energy targets by using the waste left over from sugar cane to fuel biomass power plants to produce electricity.

Construction is about to begin on a $165 million biomass plant in central Cuba. It’s the brainchild of British entrepreneur Andrew Macdonald, whose company Havana Energy Ltd had trouble raising finance for the project because of the U.S. trade embargo, or blockade as they call it. Now, the Chinese multinational Shanghai Electric has become his majority shareholder.