China Gives Solar Panels to BioCubaFarma and Will Donate Electric Vehicles

Even with the installation of thousands of solar panels and the use of renewable energies, Cuba is still dependent on oil to generate electricity. (OnCuba News)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 August 2023 — China will donate 9,259 solar panels to BioCubaFarma for the installation of a plant at the National Center for Scientific Research of Cuba, in Havana. The official newspaper Granma reported that the facility will have a generation capacity of five megawatts (MW), and an energy storage station will also be built.

The delivery of this technology is part of an agreement signed on Sunday between the president of BioCubaFarma, Eduardo Martínez Díaz, and Chen Erdong, senior consultant of the municipal government of Changzhi, located in the Chinese province of Shanxi.

Granma pointed out that this memorandum is the first step in a donation proposal from the Changzhi High-Tech Industrial Development Zone. The project contemplates the delivery of equipment and materials for the installation of a solar park, although, the press clarified, the operation of the storage batteries will depend on the results of the studies carried out by the Chinese  on the Island’s weather conditions.

One of the disadvantages of solar farms is that they depend on climatic conditions for power generation. The batteries allow the storage of the electricity captured and transformed by the photovoltaic system, which can then be dispatched to the grid. However, their operation depends on a dry environment, and exposing them to extreme heat accelerates their exhaustion.

The press pointed out that the Chinese promised to donate electric charging vehicles (minivan type), although the number of units was not specified. In addition, the construction of a charging station and integrated systems for a clean energy management network is included.

Granma reported that the memorandum also gives a way for the Cuban-Chinese mixed capital company Biotech Pharmaceutical to explore the possibility of creating a subsidiary in the Changzhi industrial zone. In response, the Government of Havana pledged to start a first stage of “technical exchanges” to install solar farms in one or two additional BioCubaFarma facilities.

Based on the results of this phase, the parties will evaluate the possibility of establishing a joint venture for the generation and distribution of energy on the Island. Zulaine Guerra Montané, director of the Office of Representation of BioCubaFarma in China, said that the donation is the result of “active cooperation in biotechnology matters.”

As part of the strengthening of relations between Cuba and China, the Asian country is positioned as one of the main technology providers to the Island, whose installed capacity is still far from the objectives announced nine years ago by the Cuban Government to alleviate the energy crisis.

In December 2022, the official press announced the installation of a solar park in Sancti Spíritus with a donation of equipment from China that would barely have a maximum generation capacity of 2.2 megawatts, 1.4% of the province’s daily demand.

That park is built on a plot of 45,000 square meters, with an assembly of 400 solar panels, two technological containers, a control house and a weather station.

Cuba’s generation matrix still depends heavily on power plants that use fossil fuel, and several of them often fail due to maintenance problems or breakdowns resulting from the age of the facilities.

Despite the fact that renewable production has much cheaper costs because it depends on natural resources, Cuba is advancing at a snail’s pace with the transformation of its installed capacity. In 2014, the Government pledged that by 2030 these technologies would represent 24% of the generation. However, the most recent figure suggests that by 2022 they barely reached 5%.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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