As part of SolarPower Europe’s new emerging market workstream, Bruce Douglas, Deputy CEO, presented at the recent Cuban Sustainable Energy Forum meeting with senior representatives of the Energy Ministry, the electricity distribution company as well as local contractors. Held in Havana from 30 to 31 January 2018, the forum provided a platform for the Cuban authorities to present the country’s sustainable energy and foreign investment opportunities, and for the EU to showcase renewable energy technologies, best practices and financing instruments available to support a renewables boom in Cuba.
The forum, co-sponsored by the European Commission, attracted more than 80 international companies from 16 countries. It aimed to show international firms the island nation’s business opportunities in the green energy sector, which will need external financing of some 4 billion U.S. dollars. Cuba now has a long-term policy for the development of green energies and environmental sustainability.
Bruce Douglas presented the latest global market figures, policy recommendations and the IRENA white paper on scaling investments in emerging markets. Minister of Energy and Mines, Alfredo Lopez commented: “Cuba is working hard to develop different forms of renewable energies to transform its existing structure of power generation and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. To fulfill this programme, we must increase the participation of renewable energy sources up to 24 percent in the country’s electricity generation by 2030, an ambitious but necessary goal for our country.” Lopez said that with this plan adopted in 2014, Cuba intends to replace 1.75 million tons of fossil fuels per year.
Cuba sees solar energy as a priority to develop – it plans to have 700MW installed by 2030. “At this moment there are 40 photovoltaic parks in operation, during this year 37 parks with Cuban investment will start generating electricity along with another 21 with foreign capital,” said Lopez.
IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin opened the Forum by saying “The energy transformation offers a path of prosperity and sustainable development, particularly in islands. But an ambitious effort to boost economic growth and diversification requires leadership, which we are seeing here in Cuba and with this forum.” For Cuba, a small island state with a dependence on imported oil which led to gasoline and power shortages in mid-2017, the need to develop its indigenous renewable resources is a pressing one.
Today, less than five per cent of Cuba’s electricity is generated from renewables. The government’s goal is ambitious and backed by a well-educated labour force and domestic renewables organisations such as the Centro de Investigaciones de Energia Solar , that are working to build the technical capacity throughout Cuba to scale up renewable energy.
However, the country faces key barriers to accessing financing for renewable energy projects. With the government’s renewable energy investment goal of USD 3.5 billion, foreign investment in the small island state is critical. IRENA has recommended a state-owned 10-megawatt solar PV project in Cuba to its partner, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), for an award of USD 15 million in co-funding. Given Cuba’s renewable energy financing constraints, the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility has the ability to inspire investor confidence and attract further finance.