Gamesa Eólica looks at prospects in Cuba

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Spanish wind company Gamesa is taking a closer look at generation prospects in Cuba, reports Gamesa Eólica export director Pedro Artigal after a renewables conference in Havana. Cuba differs from most Caribbean nations by having oil reserves. But these are limited along with its access to international markets resulting from the trade embargo, so it has to focus on indigenous power sources. Hydro and solar are the leaders, with cogeneration from bagasse in the development stage. Wind lags behind. Cuba's only wind plant is a 450 kW pilot project on Turiguanó island in Ciego de Avila province, installed by Spain's Ecotècnia with international non-government funding in 1999. But financing stopped at the installation and there was never any maintenance. The plant, which was to have generated 998.5 MWh/year with a 25.3% capacity factor, is out of operation. According to local company Cubasolar, preliminary wind studies carried out with utility INEL showed a generation potential at 24 sites in various parts of the country. Existing wind data, however, is insufficient, Artigal says, and the government will have to pay for further studies. One financing possibility has an unlikely source: the scrapping of the Jaragua nuclear project. Designed in 1980 with Soviet help, the governments of Cuba and the Soviet Union poured over $1 billion into construction -- which reached 80% completion in the first reactor and 20% in the second by 1992 -- when funds dried up. The project has been mothballed since then and in September the government decided to dismantle it, channelling money from selling off what equipment it can to finance other projects in the industry ministry's power generation portfolio.

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