Content uploaded by Jorge Morales Pedraza
All content in this area was uploaded by Jorge Morales Pedraza on Jun 28, 2019
Content may be subject to copyright.
Journal of Solar Energy Research Updates, 2019, 6, 1-14 1
E-ISSN: 2410-2199/19 © 2019 Zeal Press
Solar Energy in Cuba: Current Situation and Future Development
Jorge Morales Pedraza
Independent Researcher and Senior Consultant in Morales Project Consulting, Vienna, Austria
Abstract: Cuba, a small island in the Caribbean Sea with a total land area of 109.884 km2 and a population of around
11.423 million, has no significant proved oil, gas and coal reserves. Also use, in a very limited manner, some of the four
main renewable energy sources available in the country for electricity production, generating just 50,1 GW/h or 4,04% of
the total electricity consumed in 2015 (20.288 GW/h). In 2016, electricity consumption fell to 15.182 GW/h; this means a
reduction of 25% in comparison to 2015. In 2016, the participation of renewable energy sources in the energy mix of the
country reached 4,65%.
The different renewable energy sources available in the country are hydropower, wind power, solar photovoltaic, and
bioenergy. In 2015, out of Cuba’s total 566 MW of renewable energy capacity installed, 83% of the total was in the
bioenergy sector. In 2016, the renewable energy capacity installed in the country reached 642 MW.
According to the decision adopted by the Cuban government, the participation of renewable energy sources in the
energy mix of the country should reach 24% in 2030, an increase of almost 20% compared to the level reported in 2016.
Among the different renewable energy sources available in the country, solar energy is one of the main contributors to
the national energy system, and also one of the leading supplier of energy to independent users all over the country.
Keywords: Energy policy, Renewable energy sources, Solar photovoltaic, Renewable thermal, Hydropower, Solar
energy, Wind energy, Electricity generation.
1. THE CUBAN ENERGY SECTOR
According to Morales Pedraza (2018), “it is an
undisputed reality that the energy production,
particularly the electricity generation and their
sustained growth, constitute an indispensable element
for the economic and social progress of any country.
Without a doubt, energy is the motive force of the
civilization, and decides, in a high degree, the level of
economic and social development that a country could
Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean Sea with a
total land area of 109.884 km2 and a population of
around 11.423 million, according to the OLADE 2018
report, has no significant proved oil, natural gas, and
coal1 reserves (see Tables 1, 2 and 3), and use, in a
very limited manner, some of the four main renewable
energy sources available in the country.
In 2019, according to sources from the Ministry of
Energy and Mines (MEM), Cuba has a total installed
capacity of 5.881 MW and 100% power coverage using
different energy sources. The total installed
*Address correspondence to this author at the Indepe ndent Researcher and
Senior Consultant in Morales Project Consulting, Vienna, Austria;
Tel: +43 676 742 8225; E-mail: email@example.com
1 According to EIA database (2018) and government sources, the country
has no proved coal reserves.
renewable power generation capacity in Cuba, in 2016,
reached 642 MW representing 10% of the full power
capacity installed (see Figure 1). By type of renewable
energy source, the installed power capacity is the
• Renewable thermal: 529 MW or 8,2% of the
• Hydropower: 66 MW or 1% of the total;
• Solar energy: 37 MW or 0,6% of the total;
• Wind energy: 10 MW or 0,25 of the total
The total electricity generated in 2016 reached
20.334 MWh. The total energy produced in 2016 by
renewable energy sources reached 811 GWh or almost
4% of the total. The electricity generated by the
different energy sources in that year was the following:
• Renewable thermal: 686 GWh or 3,4% of the
• Hydropower 64 GWh or 0,3% of the total;
• Solar energy: 39 GWh or 0,2% of the total;
• Wind energy: 21 GWh or 0,1% of the total.
In 2016, out of Cuba’s total 642 MW of renewable
energy capacity installed, 0,2% of the total was in the
solar energy sector. The government desires that the
participation of renewable energy sources in the energy
2 Journal of Solar Energy Research Up dates, 2019, Vol. 6 Jorge Morales Ped raza
mix of the country reaches 24% in 2030. To increase
the current percentage in the use of renewable energy
source in 2019, an investment program of 275 million
pesos for the assembly of solar parks, wind farms, and
bioelectric power plants have been approved by the
government, according to the Ministry of Energy and
Table 1: Proved Oil Reserves in Latin America and the
Caribbean region in 2017
Proved Oil Reserves (billion barrels)
Trinidad & Tobago
Source: US Energy Information Administration (2018).
According to Table 1, Cuba has very limited oil
reserves and occupy the position number 10
considering the level of oil reserves of other Latin
American and the Caribbean countries. The country
imports around 55% of its oil needs and produce
Table 2: Proved Natural Gas Reserves in Latin America
and the Caribbean region in 2017
Proved natural gas reserves
(trillion cubic feet)
Trinidad & Tobago
Source: US Energy Information Administration (2018)
According to the information included in Table 2, Cuba
has a very low natural gas reserves in comparison with
other countries within the region, and this situation is
not expected to change during the coming years.
Based on the information included in Table 3, Cuba
has no coal reserves and, for this reason, the
government does not foresee the use of this type of
energy source for electricity generation during the
coming decades, in addition to the negative impact on
the environment and the population as a result of the
use of coal with this specific purpose.
The energy sector in Cuba has undergone a series
of changes, which has allowed the distribution of
electricity to towns and villages throughout the country
and to reach all of them without exception. These
changes have been already included in the documents
entitled “Cuban Electricity Conservation Program
(PAEC)” and “Energy Conservation Program of the
Source: IRENA and OLADE (2018) for the year 2016.
Figure 1: Evolution of the total renewable energy sources capacity installed in Cuba during the period 2010-2016.
Solar Energy in Cu ba: Current Situation and Future Development Journal of Solar Energy Resear ch Updates, 2019, Vol. 6 3
Ministry of Education (PAEME),” both approved by the
government. In addition to the programs mentioned
above, in 2016, the Cuban government adopted the so-
called “Energy Revolution Program,” which has
changed the way the country transforms and use the
diverse sources of energy available in the country
(Suárez et al., 2012).
Unfortunately, Cuba has not yet overcome
completely the economic crisis of the 1990s, which
affected significantly all economic sectors, particularly
the energy sector, due to several external and internal
factors. The main external factors are, among others,
• The persistence of the US economic embargo
against Cuba in force since the 1960s;
• Lack of foreign investors ready to support the
financing of relevant projects in the primary
• The downfall of the Soviet Union and other
socialist countries in the 1990s;
• The catastrophic effects of several hurricanes
that cross the country in the last years.
The main internal factors are, among others, the
• Low productivity;
• Low application of science, new technology, and
• Technological backwardness in several
• Unnecessary restrictions in bringing foreign
investors to support the implementation of key
projects in the primary economic areas, and
complex procedures to consider and approve
new projects by the government;
• Lack of adequate preparation of the officials in
charge of the negotiation of new projects
submitted by foreign investors;
• Low correspondence between the level of
activities and the financial, material, and human
• Low salaries;
• Insufficient energy conservation measures;
• Low production and export level of goods and
elevated level of imported basic food;
• Poor results of the political and economic
reforms adopted by the government (Morales
For 2030, the primary goal of the government in the
power sector is to generate 24% of all electricity
produced within the country using different renewable
energy sources. To achieve this goal, Cuba would
need, only in the energy sector, capital investments of
US$3,5 billion to increase the participation of
renewable energy sources in the energy mix of the
country in the future and to install other 2 GW
generation capacity during the coming years.
According to the minister of Energy and Mines, in
2019, the percentage of the electrification of the whole
country reached 100%, the highest in the region,
throughout the use of conventional energy, particularly
oil and natural gas, and several renewable energy
sources such as solar energy, wind energy,
hydropower, and bioenergy. In isolated or difficult to
access areas, the government used solar photovoltaic
panels installed in private houses and social facilities to
provide them with electricity.
Table 3: Proved Coal Reserves in Latin America and the
Caribbean region in 2017
Proved reserves (million short tons)
Source: US Energy Information Administration (2018)
4 Journal of Solar Energy Research Up dates, 2019, Vol. 6 Jorge Morales Ped raza
Based on official statistics provided by the minister
of Energy and Mines in a visit carried out in March
2017 in Germany, Cuba has:
• 22 solar photovoltaic parks actually in operation
with a total capacity of 37 MW;
• 9.476 solar panels installed;
• 9.343 windmills;
• 6.447 solar heaters;
• 827 biogas plants;
• 169 hydroelectric power plants;
• Four wind farms with 20 wind turbines;
• 57 sugar mills;
• 608 stoves for wood biomass pellet production;
• 57 turbo generators;
• 67 boilers in several sugar mills.
In addition to the above information, and according
to Cuban sources, the country has built, until the end of
2017, a total of 34 solar photovoltaic parks
synchronized to the national electrical system, with an
installed capacity of 90 MW. This is a remarkable
achievement because, the use of solar photovoltaic in
Cuba began in 2011 with the installation of about 9.000
small systems located in remote places where the
national electricity network did not exist, distributed in
medical clinics, rural schools, private homes, and
cultural facilities. The capacity installed was 3,46 MWp.
In 2012, began de program for the construction of solar
photovoltaic parks but to be connected to the national
electrical grid. The first solar photovoltaic park
connected to the national electrical grid was built in
2012 in Cantarrana in the Cienfuegos province.
Many experts see as a good sign the government’s
decision to give priority to the use of all available
renewable energy sources within the country for
electricity generation, as set up in an extensive
program launched in April 2011. This program aims to
modernize the economy and to enhance its efficiency,
and includes reactivating windmill factories, revitalizing
the hydroelectric turbine industry, and the development
of the solar panel production as much as possible,
bearing in mind that these have been the best options
in a rural electrification program implemented by the
Cuban government over the past 10 years.
The Cuban government has recognized that it
cannot move alone and at a faster pace (in the
development of its energy sector) due, among other
elements, to the country’s substantial financial
limitations. Cuba has no choice, under its current
economic situation, but to turn to international investors
to achieve its target of 24% of the total electricity to be
generated by the country in 2030 using all available
renewable energy sources.
2. CUBAN ENERGY POLICY
The preparation of a national energy policy in which
priorities and preferences are identified should be one
of the primary responsibilities of the national authorities
responsible for the energy sector in Cuba. This energy
policy should represent a compromise between
expected energy shortages, environmental quality,
energy cost, public attitudes, safety and security,
available skills, as well as production and service
capabilities. Relevant national authorities must take
these elements into account during any future revision
of the national energy policy already approved by the
government (Morales Pedraza, 2018).
To implement the newly approved energy policy
until 2030, Cuba is promoting foreign investments not
only to increase the use of renewable energy sources
for electricity generation but also to reduce the use of
fossil fuel for the same purpose as well. However, the
process set up by the government for the approval of
new projects in the energy sector with the participation
of foreign firms makes very complicated its
consideration, approval, and implementation. For this
reason, more reforms are necessary to speed up the
review and approval of new investment projects within
the energy sector in the future. A significant increase in
energy efficiency and conservation is another of the
goals to be achieved by the government by 2030, with
the aim of reducing the participation of oil in the energy
mix of the country in the future.
2.1. Problems with the Electrical Distribution Grid
Despite all saving energy measures adopted by the
government in recent years, the existence of an ancient
and inefficient electrical distribution grid, provoke that
the distribution and transmission losses in Cuba are
higher than international standards (17,6% of the total
electricity produced in 2014). The government aims to
reduce the current level of electricity loss to 14% or
less at the end of the present decade.
Solar Energy in Cu ba: Current Situation and Future Development Journal of Solar Energy Resear ch Updates, 2019, Vol. 6 5
According to Cuban experts, one of the best ways
to give energy security is to move from centralized to a
distributed energy system2 (now between 40 and 42%
of the energy produced in Cuba is by this system),
which partly has been developed as a response to high
exposure to damages caused by extreme weather
conditions and natural disasters, including hurricanes.
The decentralization of electricity production has
increased the reliability of supply and improved
efficiency when new smaller-scale power plants have
replaced older technology (Morales Pedraza, 2018).
The strategy adopted by the government also
promotes the diversification of energy sources while
making it easier to change to the use of renewable
energy sources in the future. In 2006, and because of
the measures adopted by the government in the energy
sector, Cuba installed 1.854 diesel and fuel oil micro-
electrical power plants across the country, representing
over 3.000 MW of decentralized power in 110
In addition to the installation of new power plants,
the government also installed over 4.000 emergency
back-up systems in critical areas like hospitals, food
production centers, schools, and other sites key to
Cuba’s economy. A total of 500 MW of emergency
back-up power was installed for electricity generation.
3. ELECTRICITY GENERATION AND CONSUM-
According to the US Energy Information
Administration, in 2016, the generation and
consumption of electricity in a group of Latin America
and the Caribbean countries is shown in Table 4.
According to the information included in Table 4,
Cuba occupies, in 2016, the 11th position respect to
the level of electricity production and 9th in the level of
electricity consumption within the region. The electricity
consumption in Cuba, in 2016, reached 16 billion kW/h,
the same level reported by the Dominican Republic.
2 Currently, Cuba has a generating capacity of 2.418 MW based on
distributed generation. A total of 1.280 MW corresponds to diesel generators
and the rest are fuel oil motors (540 MW), CHP (529 MW) and renewable
technologies (69 MW) (Suárez et al., 2012). This means that between 40 and
42% of the generation capacity is in d istributed systems: a very significant shift
away from a centralized power system that Cuba has in the past.
3 Before the end of 2019, and according to public sources, the government
hopes to start the operation of the most modern thermoelectric power plant
using diesel as fuel in the Cienfuegos province. The new plant will be
composed by 40 generators and will provide 60% of the province energy
Table 4: Electricity Generation in a group of Latin
America and the Caribbean countries in 2016
Source: US Energy Information Administration database 2019.
4. THE CURRENT SITUATION OF THE
RENEWABLE ENERGY SECTOR IN CUBA
According to Moreno Figueredo, in 2017, the
following types of renewable energy sources,
technologies, and applications were available in Cuba:
A. For electricity generation:
• Wind power (four wind farms with a total capacity
of 11 MW, and 9.343 small wind turbines);
• Solar photovoltaic4 (more than 9.000 solar
panels isolated from the grid5;
4 Average solar radiation in Cuba is higher than 1.800 kW/m2 per year.
This average is very good for the use of solar photovoltaic systems for
5 There are in Cuba, according to government sources, a total of 9.476
solar panels used for electricity generation not connected to the national grid all
over the country (Moreno Figueredo).
6 Journal of Solar Energy Research Up dates, 2019, Vol. 6 Jorge Morales Ped raza
• Small and mini hydropower (169 hydropower
plants running throughout the country with a total
installed capacity of 71,9 MW, of which 34 units
are connected to the national grid, and 135 units
give electricity to 8.486 homes and 416
economic and social facilities);
B. For the reduction of electricity consumption,
gas, and other energy carriers:
• Co-generation of heat (steam) in the sugar
• Solar thermal energy;
• Windmills for pumping water (9.343 units);
• Biogas for cooking food;
• Forest biomass for cooking food;
• Biofuels for transport.
Cuba intends to increase the participation of all
available renewable energy sources in the electricity
generation sector over the next eight years, with the
aim of improving security and energy sovereignty. In
the particular case of solar energy, the expansion in the
use of this type of energy source should be carried out
under the following conditions:
• The construction of solar photovoltaic parks
should not use fertile land that can be used for
agriculture purposes, particularly for the
production of food;
• The capacity of the solar photovoltaic parks
should take into account the consumption level
of the potential consumers with the aim of
reducing to the minimum losses by transmission,
distribution, and transformation;
• The use of solar energy for electricity generation
should improve the reliability of the electrical
network, and should not be a destabilizing force
of the grid;
• The solar photovoltaic systems used should be
designed to withstand winds of more than 150
• The solar photovoltaic system should be
constructed correctly, following international
standards and the Cuban norms.
In 2016, around 4% of the electricity generated
throughout the country was produced using renewable
energy sources; over the next eight years, this
percentage should be 16,5%, a little bit more than four
times than the level reported today, according to
government sources. To reach that goal, the
participation of the different renewable energy sources
in the energy mix of the country, in 2030, should be,
according to Ramada (2016), the following:
• Biomass: 14%;
• Wind energy: 6%;
• Solar photovoltaic: 3%;
• Hydropower: 1%.
According to government sources, the potential of
solar energy recognized throughout the country
exceeds 2.000 MW, but the plan is to install only 700
MW by 2030.
5. SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC PARKS UNDER
CONSTRUCTION AND IN OPERATION
During the 2010s, the Cuban government began an
intensive program for the construction of solar
photovoltaic parks to increase the participation of solar
energy in the energy mix of the country. In 2013, the
first solar photovoltaic park in Cuba began operation in
Cienfuegos, in the central south part of the island. As a
result of the implementation of the program mentioned
above, Cuba has already in operation 22 solar
photovoltaic parks with a generating capacity of 37 MW
(see Figure 4), and by the end of the year 2017, seven
additional solar photovoltaic parks of a plan of 32 parks
with a total capacity of 89 MW were completed. The
seven parks have a full capacity of 11 MW (see Figure
4). In 2018, the government plans to build 27 new solar
photovoltaic parks with a full capacity of 95 MW (see
Figure 4). The Cuban government has plans for the
construction of a total of 191 solar photovoltaic parks
with a total installed capacity of 700 MW by 2030
(Figueredo et al., 2017) with a total generation capacity
of 1.050 GWh per year. A total of 240 million tons of oil
per year will be saved as a result of the operation of
these solar photovoltaic parks.
After the adoption of the National Energy Sources
Development Program, the Cuban government
supported the installation of 2.364 solar photovoltaic
systems on rural schools, making lights, computers,
and educational television programs accessible to
almost all students in the country. In addition to these
Solar Energy in Cu ba: Current Situation and Future Development Journal of Solar Energy Resear ch Updates, 2019, Vol. 6 7
actions, the government began, in 2017, the
implementation of a national plan for the supply of solar
photovoltaic panels to be installed in private houses for
electricity generation. “A total of 9.476 solar
photovoltaic systems have been installed with this
specific purpose” (See Figures 2 and 3) (Morales
Solar photovoltaic technologies used in Cuba for
electricity generation are planned for a 20-25-year’s life
cycle. The use of this technology ensures the electricity
generation in the most efficient manner and takes
advantage of the available solar potential throughout
the territory. During the life cycle of a solar photovoltaic
park, each MW installed should generate 38.750
MW/h. This represents a saving of more than US$2,5
million only in fuel consumption and failing to emit
127.875 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
“According to estimates of Cuban specialists on the
subject, in 100 km2 a total of 15.000 GW/h per year can
be generated, which is somehow like the current
electricity generation based on conventional fuels”
(Morales Pedraza, 2018).
5.1. Solar Investment in the Power Sector
Until May 2017, Cuba has built 22 solar photovoltaic
parks with a total capacity of 37 MW. The plan for 2018
is shown in Figure 4.
In 2015, the Cuban government approved an
increase of 700 MW in the current solar photovoltaic
capacity to be installed in the country by 2030. Out of
this total, 350 MW will be constructed by the Cuban
government with its own resources, and foreign
companies will build the remaining 350 MW. According
to the standard of US$2 million per MW that Cuba uses
Source: Cuba Energía
Figure 2: Solar photovoltaic systems installed in a rural medical post.
Source: Cuba Energía
Figure 3: Solar photovoltaic systems installed in a rural school.
8 Journal of Solar Energy Research Up dates, 2019, Vol. 6 Jorge Morales Ped raza
in its investment portfolio in the energy sector, the total
cost of the projects under negotiation with foreign
companies would be US$700 million. The solar
photovoltaic parks under consideration by the Cuban
government are expected to generate around 1.000
GW/h per year, avoiding the emission of 874.000 tons
of CO2 (Morales Pedraza, 2018).
A total of 17 solar photovoltaic parks with a capacity
of 100 MW will be built by foreign companies in four
provinces in the western part of the country (Pinar del
Rio, Mayabeque, Artemisa and Matanzas). All these
solar photovoltaic parks are to be built under the build-
own-operate (BOO) type of contract. The state utility
“Electrical National Union” (Unión Nacional Eléctrica,
UNE) will be the sole buyer of the electricity generated
by these parks, paying a fixed negotiated price during
the next 25 years. Additional 184 MW of capacity will
also be constructed in 59 solar photovoltaic parks in a
selected group of provinces in the central and eastern
regions of the country6 (see Figure 4).
Credit from the Renewable Energy Agency will
facilitate the lifting of four solar photovoltaic parks with
a capacity of 10 MW in the coming years. Another loan
granted to the electronics industry will enable to build
16 new solar photovoltaic parks with a total capacity of
40 MW shortly (Figueredo et al., 2017).
5.2. Solar Photovoltaic Parks under Construction or
According to Morales Pedraza (2018), there are
6 Three solar photovoltaic parks with a total capacity of 50 MW will be
constructed by UK-based “Hive Energy” in the Mariel Special Development
several solar photovoltaic parks under construction or
in operation in Cuba. The location where these solar
photovoltaic parks are under construction or in service
are the following:
Camagüey began, in May 2016, the construction of
its second solar photovoltaic park, designed to
generate 1,2 MW/h, has 4.800 solar panels and is
located near the Integrated Water Technology Center
(CITA), in the north of the city. The functioning of the
solar photovoltaic park in the CITA area will decrease
diesel consumption equivalent to over 1.200 tons in
one year and avoids the emission of more than 1.500
tons of CO2.
Camagüey inaugurated, in 2017, its third solar
photovoltaic park with a capacity to generate 5 MW/h.
By 2030, the province of Camagüey will be able to
produce around 60 MW/h, thanks to the construction of
several solar photovoltaic parks, with a capacity
between 5 and 10 MW/h each, most in the periphery of
the capital city.
It is worth mentioning that more than 200
independent solar photovoltaic panels are already
installed in the province today for electricity generation
in schools, video, and computer rooms, as well as in
According to government sources, during the period
2018-2019 a solar photovoltaic park with a total
capacity of 5 MW will be completed in the province of
Camagüey. The construction of the park will be divided
into two phases. One MW of capacity will be
constructed in the first phase, and the remaining 4 MW
Figure 4: Solar photovoltaic parks to be constructed in 2018.
Solar Energy in Cu ba: Current Situation and Future Development Journal of Solar Energy Resear ch Updates, 2019, Vol. 6 9
of capacity will be available at the end of the second
The total solar photovoltaic capacity already
installed in the province reached 2,8 MW and included
the solar photovoltaic park built in the municipality of
Guáimaro two years ago. The installation of the solar
photovoltaic park in Guáimaro saved in its first year of
operation the consumption of more than 500 tons of oil.
Cuba’s first solar photovoltaic park opened in 2013
in Cantarrana in the central province of Cienfuegos,
300 km east of Havana. It boasts 14.000 photovoltaic
panels. In April 2013, the park began contributing to the
island’s energy grid (Rodriguez, 2013).
According to the Newsletter “FRE” 2016, in the
province of Cienfuegos began, in March 2016, in very
rocky terrain, the movement of land for the future
construction of a new solar photovoltaic park called “El
Pino.” The solar photovoltaic park, located in an area
near the municipality of Rhodes, is erected at
6.540.000 Cuban pesos. The generating capacity of “El
Pino” is 2,2 MW, and has 3.520 foundations, 880
tables, and 8.800 solar panels. With the beginning of
the electricity generation by this park in 2017, the total
capacity of the province increased to 11,2 MW.
In 2018, in Yaguaramas, a Cienfuegos municipality
of Abreus, a solar photovoltaic park with 5 MW peak
generation capacity, the largest in the country funded
by the government of the People's Republic of China,
started to generate electricity to the national grid7. The
park has 19.440 solar panels, 8.100 desks, and the
construction cost was around 17 million Cuban pesos.
The existence of several free lands in Cienfuegos
could allow the construction of several solar
photovoltaic parks with a total capacity of 60 MW by
5.2.3. Pinar del Rio
In the province of Pinar del Rio, in the western part
of the island, the construction of the first solar
photovoltaic park began in January 2015 (See Figure
5). The park with a capacity of 3 MW will contribute to a
circuit that feeds the wells that serve all the water to the
7China will finance the construction of several energy projects
city, about 8.000 consumers, will help the development
of the agriculture in the area, and it is expected to save
1.300 tons of fuel equivalent per year. The construction
cost was about 7.000.000 Cuban pesos. The recovery
of the investment is expected not to exceed six years.
The park has 12.040 solar panels, at about 4.000 solar
panels per MW, all produced at the Electronic
Component Company “Ernesto Che Guevara,” located
within the province. National firms also provide the
support structures used during the construction of the
In 2016, the Cuban electric company in Pinar del
Río began the construction of a second solar
photovoltaic park with a generating capacity of 2,2
MWp. The facility was constructed in “El Cafetal,” in the
municipality of San Luis. According to Michel Casals,
director of investments in the company, the solar
photovoltaic park is providing energy directly to the
national electrical grid (Suárez Rivas, 2016).
In addition to the solar photovoltaic parks mentioned
above, two new parks have been installed, which will
allow to relieve the electric peak of the noon hours and
to extend the useful life of the generating units that
produce energy in that period of the day. The new sites
are set up around Pinar del Rio city, and one of them is
backed by a Chinese donation of the technology used
during the construction of the solar photovoltaic park.
The park has 4 MW of capacity. The Cuban side was
responsible for the civil construction and the assembly
of the different components of the solar photovoltaic
park (Pimentel Miranda, 2017).
According to the government plan, seven
photovoltaic solar parks will be built in the province of
Pinar del Rio before 2020, to contribute with more
clean energy for the electricity generation in the region.
Michel Casal Hernández, director of investments of
UNE in the western territory, explained that all areas for
the construction of the seven solar photovoltaic parks
have already been identified. Each of the parks will
have a capacity between 5 MW and 10 MW.
In total, the eight solar photovoltaic parks that
currently have the territory delivered in 2018 to the
national electrical grid 22.327 MWh, a figure that
exceeds what had been generated previously in the
province, since the launch of the first of these facilities
in 2015. In 2018, the electricity generated in these eight
parks allows a saving of about 5.724 tons of fuel, and
stop emitting around 3.720 tons of CO2 into the
10 Journal of Solar Energy Research Updates, 2019, Vol. 6 Jorge Morales Ped raza
atmosphere, according to the director of renewable
energy sources in Pinar del Rio.
Summing up the following can be stated: Pinar del
Río has a total of 27 areas prepared for the
construction of 11 solar photovoltaic parks before 2030,
which will be implemented through different programs
using foreign investment (Corbillon Diaz, 2016). The
province is expected to have 99 MW of solar
photovoltaic installed capacity by that year (Newsletter
The province of Granma, situated in the eastern
part of the island, had 1.628 small off-grid solar
photovoltaic systems powering medical clinics, local
hospitals, schools, social centers, museums, and
private homes, located in remote areas without access
to the national electrical grid. There are also 426 solar
hot-water heaters, three solar distillers to produce
water for solar photovoltaic system batteries, and a
solar dryer that dries medicinal plants for the Natural
Medicine Center located within the province. The
Cuban government funded most of these systems and
supplied them with solar photovoltaic panels fabricated
in Cuba using imported cells.
By 2030, Granma is expected to have nine solar
photovoltaic parks, in addition to the photovoltaic park
“Yarely 1” already in operation.
5.2.5. Sancti Spiritus
In 2019, the province has five solar photovoltaic
parks in operation with excellent results. One of these
parks operates in the region of Neiva in the municipality
of Cabaiguán, another in the area of La Sierpe in the
central part of the island, a third one in the municipality
of Guasimal, another one in the municipality of
Yaguajay, and the last one in the location of Venegas.
The solar photovoltaic park in the municipality of
Cabaiguan had a capacity of 4,4 MW and was built in
an area of 7,1 ha. It is expected that this solar
photovoltaic park will generate 6.600 MW/h per year,
when connecting to the national electrical grid, and will
save the consumption of 1.700 tons of oil per year.
The solar photovoltaic park constructed in the
municipality of Guasimal had an installed capacity of
4,4 MW and was built at the cost of 12 million Cuban
pesos or US$480.000. The construction of the park
was financed by China.
The solar photovoltaic park built in the municipality
of Sierpe has 525 solar panels module (10 solar panels
each), and it is expected to supply 2.000 MWh to the
national electrical grid. The construction cost of the
park was 3 million Cuban pesos and was built on 2,5
The solar photovoltaic park built in Neiva began
operation in January 2019. The park has an installed
capacity of 2,2 MW, has a total of 8.000 solar panels
with 400 tables, and its construction cost was 7,8
million Cuban pesos or US$312.000. It is expected that
in one year this solar photovoltaic park will generate
3.300 MWh. The technology used was provided by
Source: Courtesy of Eduardo Gonzalez.
Figure 5: Solar Photovoltaic Park in Pinar del Rio.
Solar Energy in Cu ba: Current Situation and Future Development Journal of Solar Energy Resear ch Updates, 2019, Vol. 6 11
The solar photovoltaic park in the location of
Venegas has an installed capacity of 1,25 MW, and it is
expected to provide around 1.875 MWh to the national
electrical grid. The Abu Dhabi Fund financed the
construction of the park in cooperation with the
The purpose of the government is to build in Sancti
Spiritus in the coming years at least 14 solar
photovoltaic parks, which will distinguish the province
as the region where the highest number of solar
photovoltaic parks will be constructed. The government
plan is to have, at the end of 2019, solar photovoltaic
parks in operation to satisfy around 70% of the total
electric demand of the province at lunchtime.
The new solar photovoltaic parks to be constructed
in the province will be conditioned with modern
technology, either by driving or percussion of metal
beams, so the field tests have been decisive in
determining the ideal site for the construction of these
In December 2013, the “Santa Teresa-Los Güiros”
solar photovoltaic park in Guantánamo, with 10.800
solar panels built on 5 ha started to generate electricity
to the national electrical grid.
5.2.7. Mariel Special Development Zone
Cuba will install three photovoltaic parks with
foreign capital in the Mariel Special Development Zone.
The solar photovoltaic park will have a capacity of 50
MW, is expected to generate 102 GW/h per year, and
will have more than 300.000 solar panels distributed in
three locations, according to the president of the
company Mariel Solar S.A., Bernardo Fernández,
quoted by the state news agency Prensa Latina.
The project was awarded, in 2016, to the British
company Hive Energy, after a negotiation process that
included electricity sales contract to the Cuban
counterpart. Using the national standard of US$2
million per MW, the total cost of the construction of
these three parks is estimated at US$100 million. The
construction of these three solar photovoltaic parks is
expected to be concluded before the end of 2020.
The province will have, in 2030, a total of 23 solar
photovoltaic parks with a total capacity slightly above
5.3. Electricity Generation by Solar Energy
If the government wants to reach its goal of 24% of
electricity generation using renewable energy sources
by 2030, then it needs to add at least 633 MW of wind
capacity, 700 MW of solar photovoltaic, and 860 MW of
biomass to its current energy mix. While several of the
projects to install new renewable capacity will be 100%
Cuban owned, the government is looking for foreign
investment to implement over 200 of these renewable
energy projects (Morales Pedraza, 2018). In the case
of projects in the field of solar energy, the government
has plans to receive US$700 million of foreign
resources to build several solar photovoltaic with a total
capacity of 350 MW.
Finally, it is essential to state the following: the
government has plans to reach, by the end of 2019,
over 17% of the solar photovoltaic energy plan until
2030 already implemented.
5.4. Looking Forward
The MEM will carry out pre-feasibility studies to
install 1.666.000 solar panels during the coming years.
Source: Courtesy of Ronald Suárez
Figure 6: Solar photovoltaic panels.
12 Journal of Solar Energy Research Updates, 2019, Vol. 6 Jorge Morales Ped raza
The aim is to generate 490 GW/h per year, at an
estimated operating cost of 0.002 CUC8/kWh in several
provinces of the island. This program will replace the
consumption of 122.470 tons per year of fossil fuel
(mainly oil). The investment is expected to be
recovered in 11 years.
To ensure the implementation of the program
mentioned above, the government will increase the
capacity of the national company “Ernesto Che
Guevara” of Pinar del Rio to up to 50 MWp. The aim is
of satisfying the needs of solar panels for the
construction of several solar photovoltaic parks to be
installed throughout the country before 2030. On the
other hand, the national industry is expected to
produce components and aggregates for the solar
photovoltaic parks to be built during the coming years,
such as the inverter, panel mounts (tables),
transformers, blackboards, electrical cables, and
The program will use completely the factory design
capacity of vacuum tube heaters “RENSOL” (50,000
units) located in Morón, Ciego de Ávila in the central
region of the island. The factory will also manufacture
solar dryers for food, seeds, wood, and medicinal
plants of assorted designs. It will also develop the
production of solar concentrators to generate
Finally, it is important to highlight, according to
recent government public sources, that the Cuban
government intends to expand the use of solar
photovoltaic systems in the future by increasing the
capacity to be built by 2030 from 700 MW to 1.000
Cuba is increasing its renewable energy capacity
already installed for electricity generation with the aim
of reducing the participation of oil in the energy mix of
the country by 2030. Solar energy will be one of the
renewable energy sources that will increase its
involvement in the energy mix of the country by 2030.
The program approved by the government foresees the
construction of 191 solar photovoltaic parks with
national and foreign resources with a total capacity of
700 MW by 2030. The above-mentioned solar energy
8 CUC, the convertible Cuban pesos, has a rate of exchange 1 CUC=0.89
US dollars (included 10% penalty for the use of US dollars in the transaction).
capacity will represent 3% of the full capacity to be
installed in the country by 2030.
The country is carrying out an Energetic Revolution
with the aim of reducing the use of fossil fuels for
electricity generation and increase, in the same
proportion, the use of different renewable energy
sources for this specific purpose.
It is important to single out that the energy transition
in Cuba began several years ago, but without having a
comprehensive policy, nor a regulatory framework for
the use of new energy sources. No specific projects
were identified for the increased use of renewable
energy sources for electricity generation, and together
with the lack of financial and human resources needed
to implement this program, among other factors, limited
the speed that the program was performed at the
There was also an absence of awareness about the
need to use this type of energy source for electricity
generation, not only at the decision-makers level but
within the society as well. It must be recognized that,
despite the efforts of some institutions and research
centers related to the subject, there was no real
understanding of the need for these changes within the
government (Morales Pedraza, 2018).
However, in 2006, the government began to take
firm steps with the declaration of the “Energetic
Revolution” in Cuba. The purpose of this program is to
change the energy mix of the country by increasing the
use of all available renewable energy sources in the
country (see Figure 7).
The shift towards an economy not based on fossil
fuels inevitably leads to an increase in the use of
renewable energy sources. Thanks to the development
of the technologies associated to the different
renewable energy sources over the last twenty years,
the actual costs of generating wind and solar electricity
have been reduced to about US$0,10 per kW/h or less.
This cost is significantly lower than the cost of the
electricity generated by the power plants that burn oil
within the country, which is around US$0,20 per kW/h.
The same applies to biomass and hydropower.
The government is expecting that, by 2030, the
energy mix of the country will be the following (see
Solar Energy in Cu ba: Current Situation and Future Development Journal of Solar Energy Resear ch Updates, 2019, Vol. 6 13
• Fossil fuels: 32%;
• Other fossil fuels: 21%;
• Biomass: 14%;
• Wind energy: 6%;
• Solar energy: 3%.
With the aim of saving resources as much as
possible, as well as the reduction in the use of fossil
fuels for electricity generation and the emission of CO2
to the atmosphere, the government will increase the
use of renewable energy sources for electricity
generation within the energy mix of the country up to
24% by 2030. However, and according to Figure 7, the
use of fossil fuels for electricity generation will continue
to be, in 2030, the primary energy sources used in
Cuba for this purpose (76%) with a negative impact on
The total capacity by type of renewable energy
source to be installed in Cuba by 2030 is shown in
Table 5: Capacity to be Installed by 2030 by Energy
Capacity to be Installed (MW)
Source: Moreno Figueredo.
 C. Ramada, Julio (2016), Energies’ Renovables en Cuba
[Renowable energies in Cuba], IMRE, U.H., 2016.
 Cuba: A country profile on sustainable energy development
(2008); jointly sponsored by the International Atomic Energy
Agency, Centro de Gestión de la Información y Desarrollo de
la Energía and the United Nations Department of Economic
and Social Affairs; International Atomic Energy Agency;
Vienna, Austria; 2008.
 Energy Information Administration, U.S. database, 2016.
 Energy Information Administration, US database, 2018.
 Energy Information Administration, US database, 2019.
 Energy Landscape for Latin America and the Caribbean
(2018); OLADE; 2018.
 Figueredo Reinaldo, Oscar; Garaycoa Martínez, Roberto;
and Domínguez, L Eduardo (2017), Cuba avanza en el uso
de energías renovables [Cuba advances in the use of
renewable energies], published in: Actualización del modelo
socialista cubano [Update of the Cuban socialist model], 22
 Guevara-Stone, Laurie (2009); La Revolución Energética
[The Energy Revolution]: Cuba’s Energy Revolution.
Renewable Energy World Magazine. 9 April 2009.
 International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Installed
Capacity Trends, 2019.
 La Razón Digital, La Habana, Cuba empleará por primera
vez energía de las olas para mover agua estancada [Digital
Reason, Havana, Cuba will use for the first time wave energy
to move stagnant water], EFE, septiembre 2016.
 Morales Pedraza, Jorge (2013); Energy in Latin American
and the Caribbean: The Current and Future Role of
Renewable and Nuclear Energy Sources in the Regional
Electricity Generation; ISBN: 978-1-62257-980-8; Nova
Science Publisher Inc.; 2013.
 Morales Pedraza, Jorge (2018); Renewable Energy Sources
in Cuba: Current Situation and Development Prospects;
Chapter 2 of the book entitled “Focus on Renewable Energy
Sources”; ISBN 9781536138023; Nova Science Publishers;
 Moreno Figueredo, Conrado, Cuba hacia 100% energías
renovables, Transición energética en Cuba [Cuba towards
100% renewable energy, Energy transition in Cuba],
Source: Julio C. Ramada, IMRE
Figure 7: Energy mix for 2030.
14 Journal of Solar Energy Research Updates, 2019, Vol. 6 Jorge Morales Ped raza
 National Energy Sources Development Program; Cuba.
 Newsletter FRE, Knowledge Management Group, Technical
Direction. National Electrical Union, number 37, September
 Pimentel Miranda, Zorileidys (2017), Work in Pinar del Rio in
installation of new photovoltaic parks, Radio Guamá, Cuba,
 Rodriguez, Andrea (2012); Cuba’s Renewable Energy: Gov.
Missing Out On Solar, Wind Power Opportunities, Experts
Say. Huffington Post 7.5.2012,
energy-alternative-solar wind_n_1651216.html, 2012.
 Rodriguez, Andreas (2013), Cuba’s first solar farm a step
toward renewable, 2013.
 Seifried, Dieter (2013); Cuban Energy Revolution – A Model
for Climate Protection? Freiburg: Büro Ö-quadrat.
 Slade, Giles (2006); Made to Break: Technology and
Obsolescence in America. Harvard University Press. 330 pp;
 Suárez, José Antonio; Aníbal Beatón, Pedro; Faxas
Escalona, Rodolny; and Pérez Montero, Ofelia (2012);
Energy, environment and development in Cuba, Renewable
and Sustai nable Energy Reviews, journal home page:
 Suárez Rivas, Ronald (2016); Pinar del Río committed to the
use of solar energy, Granma, 2016.
 Valdés, Magdalena (2017); Cuba incorporará 59 parques
fotovoltaicos a la generación eléctrica, Granma, [Cuba will
incorporate 59 photovoltaic parks to electricity generation,
Granma,] January 2017.
Received on 20-3-2019 Accepted on 28-3-2019 Published on 28-3-2019
© 2019 Jorge Morales Pedraza; Zeal Press.
This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction
in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.