Cuba is making a concerted effort to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels and boost its renewable energy output. There is an added urgency.
CGTN’s Michael Voss reports.
The economic crisis in Venezuela has significantly reduced its deliveries of subsidized oil. Cuba is also feeling the effects of climate change with rising sea levels and the threat of more severe hurricanes.
This week saw Havana host its first Renewable Energy Business Forum, attracting companies from 16 countries. Cuba’s goal is to increase its output of renewable energy from just over four percent today to 24 percent by 2030.
“It is quite an ambitious project but totally possible,” said Rational Use of Energy Director Elaine Moreno. “We have projects in quite advanced stages including solar, wind and biomass energy. It’s ambitious but we can implement it.”
Two Chinese companies are currently building wind farms in Cuba, and there has been considerable co-operation with solar power, including a panel assembly plant.
In addition to a strong Chinese presence, there are plenty of European companies as well as some from Latin America, all looking for investment opportunities here. But because of the trade embargo, no one has come from the United States.
The U.S. trade embargo has also deterred most foreign banks from financing projects in Cuba.
This event is co-sponsored by the European Union, which has committed $22 million to help Cuba develop and implement its alternative energy strategy. The next step is to use EU development funds to encourage private investors.
“All these funds are there to de-risk private investment,” said EU International Cooperation Commission’s Stefano Manservisi.
“Therefore, this is the way we will work, soliciting private investors, and since the risk remains high to help by lowering the rate of interest but also simply giving the guarantee that the market is not able to give.”
Cuba is looking to the sugar industry to play a key role by using bagasse, a waste product from the refining process to power large energy plants servicing the national grid. The first large-scale Anglo/Chinese project is now under construction with more to follow.