First bioelectric Plant in Cuba, with Common Technology in Latin America

The bioelectric plant and the Ciro Redondo sugar mill. (Granma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 9, 2021 — The Cuban authorities announced that this Saturday the definitive synchronization between the Ciro Redondo sugar mill and a nearby bioelectric plant concluded. This is the first experience on the Island in the generation of energy from sugarcane and marabou biomass, described by the official press, with its usual triumphalist tone, as “an unprecedented energy experience.”

An article published in Granma points out that, in the first 24 hours of interconnection between both plants, there were “stable technical parameters” that allowed progress to advance in the plan to increase generation loads. Until 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, it generated between 25 and 30 MW and injected 21.5 megawatts (MW) into the National Electricity System (SEN).

The technical teams maintain “strict surveillance” over the operation and parameters of the plant and its mechanism, said Ariel Díaz Román, director of the generator, who warned that the binomial “is obliged to work almost perfectly” to avoid interruptions in the electrical system.

The synchronization of both plants was announced in December 2021, and the official press described as a “national milestone” the “twinning” with the sugar mill Ciro Redondo, in Ciego de Ávila. Vidal Martín Sarduy, administrator of the sugar mill, assured that the device “can without problems” fulfill the grinding for the 106 days of the sugar harvest of 5,600 tons in 24-hour days.

The Government explained that the plant will deliver steam and electricity, while the sugar mill will send bagasse and condensate. “If any of these processes fail, the setbacks will return,” it warns.

“The sugar mill is strong, calm, comfortable, tight, with new equipment,” Martín Sarduy described in the first hours of interconnection operations. “For now, we are focused on reducing the moisture of the bagasse so that its neighbor can consume it without problems, and thus save the marabou biomass,” he added.

The biomass generation plant, a renewable technology common in several Latin American countries, has a capacity to swallow about 2,100 tons of bagasse in 24 hours during the harvest, while during the period of inactivity of the mill it will be able to process between 1,200 and 1,500 tons of marabou. However, the Government recognizes that so far it has only been able to process bagasse in its boilers.

Cuba is going through an energy crisis that worsened in May 2022, resulting in months of blackouts and power outages that exceeded 10 and 12 hours for many days and even forced a reduction in  industrial activity to save energy, further burdening the precarious economy. The situation has provoked some of the largest demonstrations since July 11, 2021 on the Island, such as those recorded in August last year in Nuevitas, which forced the dismissal of the now former Minister of Energy and Mines, Liván Arronte. After apparent tranquility in December, his successor in office, Vicente de la O Levy, warned this week that power outages will return between January and April.

The difference, he explained, is that this time they will be brief and more localized during the maintenance of the electrical system so that they will be prepared for the start of the high consumption season, when temperatures increase on the Island.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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