European support for Cuba project

Cash from Spain and the European Union (EU) will allow energy starved Cuba to site a 1 MW wind farm on Turiguano, an island off on the country's eastern seaboard. According to SODePAZ, a Spanish non government organisation which is organising several alternative energy projects in Cuba, the project has EU financial backing as well as contributions from the local governments of Cordoba, Alcorcon and the regional governments of Valencia and Andalucia in Spain.

Francisco Calderon, SODePAZ's co-ordinator for Cuban power projects, says the wind plant would be powered by Ecotècnia turbines built in Spain. "We hope to have it on line sometime in 1997," he says. Calderon puts the estimated cost of the project at ESP 200 million.

The Turiguano project is the first wind farm to get past the blueprint stage in Cuba. The country has been fighting a US-instigated stranglehold on its economy since the collapse of aid from the former Soviet Bloc in 1991. The wind farm is one of 11 alternative power plans for the cash-strapped nation announced by Cuban technicians during the recent World Solar Summit in Zimbabwe, but the only wind project.

This is significant because Cuba was initially enthusiastic about wind but has apparently become more interested in solar after technicians discovered there was only limited potential for wind and enormous possibilities for solar power.

A larger wind power project outlined in 1993 was cancelled after a wind map of Cuba disproved earlier estimations that the renewable resource could provide huge quantities of power. That project also involved Ecotècnia. Cubans are not closing the door on wind projects entirely, though. According to Calderon, they are hoping to site several wind farms in the northern reaches of the island nation where wind speeds are sufficient.