Now that Cuban trade restrictions have been relaxed somewhat, a number of UK solar energy firms have set their sights on the country, according to recent reports.
In particular, the UK-based company Hive Energy (of Hampshire, England) recently announced that it was the “first British company to secure a major solar project contract in Cuba.”
Hive Energy has apparently secured a contract with Cuba’s state electricity company, Union Eléctrica de Cuba, for the development of a 50 megawatt (MW) solar energy project in the Mariel Free Zone. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2018.
“The contract marks Cuba’s serious efforts to clean up its fuel supply and move away from a dependence on foreign oil to a portfolio of wind, sun and sugar cane. Combustible fuels are also the island’s primary source of contamination, and following 5 decades of a US embargo, Cuba’s power grid and plants are costly and inefficient. All of these factors have forced the island to look for renewable solutions to support the economy.”
In addition to Hive Energy’s contract, a separate UK-based developer by the name of Commercial Funded Solar (CFS) is apparently working on several new solar + energy storage project contracts — altogether totaling $7.3 million in potential project costs and 5 MW of nameplate capacity.
“CFS last month signed a joint venture agreement with UK-based Cuban investment firm Leni Gas Cuba to gauge the market for hybrid renewable energy systems in the country.” Furthermore, “CFS chief executive Tim Dobson said the company is targeting Cuba’s commercial and industrial solar sector, and is already looking to install renewable energy systems on 3 Cuban island holiday resorts.”
Leni Gas Cuba will reportedly also be sourcing the project opportunities — which may also include Cuban school and hospital projects.
The coverage continues: “CFS expects the Cuban market for solar-plus-storage could be worth around $29 million within a year. Dobson said the nation’s network operator is willing to offer power-purchase agreements of between $0.10 and $0.15 per kilowatt-hour, ‘with storage on the higher end.’ “
Other UK firms are investigating the country as well, with the commercial director for UK renewable energy professional services firm Dulas, Alistair Marsden, noting that Cuba is an “interesting” market.
The country is reportedly aiming to increase its renewable energy share to 24%, from 4.3%. Interestingly, the country is currently (through the University of Havana) “studying the prospect of Cuba running its own verification, control and certification labs for photovoltaic cells and modules in the future.”
A rapid move towards renewables would likely be prudent considering the deteriorating situation in Venezuela (a major supplier of oil for Cuba).