[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Cuba solves energy crisis the old-fashioned way
dm23 at queensu.ca
Tue Jan 22 16:52:25 GMT 2008
Unfortunately, this article fails to mention that the Canadian multinational
Sherritt is involved in energy and electricity production in a big way in
Cuba now (the company is the largest single investor in Cuba) and there are
growing concerns around the commodification of electricity in the country.
From: debate-bounces at debate.kabissa.org
[mailto:debate-bounces at debate.kabissa.org] On Behalf Of Patrick Bond
Sent: January 22, 2008 4:33 AM
To: discussion list
Subject: [DEBATE] : (Fwd) Cuba solves energy crisis the old-fashioned way
Review of Cubas Energy Revolution
BY MARÍA JULIA MAYORAL
Cubas successful energy revolution will continue and expand in 2008
with an additional US $2 billion in investments planned, said Basic
Industry Minister Yadira Garcia and other specialists on the televised
Round Table program on Wednesday.
RENOVATION OF DISTRIBUTION LINES WILL IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF SERVICE.
When Cubas energy revolution began in 2005 under the leadership and
guidance of Fidel Castro, a barrel of oil was priced at US $46 on the
world market; today, that same barrel is nearing $100. The price of oil
alone validates the importance of the program, Garcia told a nationwide
Besides improving living standards, the energy revolution is aimed at
decreasing pollution, a modest contribution by Cuba towards the serious
problem of climate change. The effort includes a radical change in the
concepts of energy generation and consumption with an emphasis on
awareness, said Garcia in an exchange with Council of Ministers
Executive Committee Secretary Carlos Lage, who was also present at the
Round Table program.
Garcia noted that among the main results to date of the energy
revolution are the elimination of blackouts caused by a supply deficit
and the delivery of millions of efficient home appliances to families
throughout the island. She said particular benefit was felt by the 75
percent of Cuban families who had previously cooked using kerosene, a
fuel that besides being a high pollutant is energy inefficient.
The official pointed to the need to guarantee spare parts for the new
electricity generator sets as well as for the home appliances that will
be repaired at workshops belonging to the Ministry of Commerce.
Garcia also acknowledged some deficiencies, "There have been some tasks
that we havent handled correctly and even some problems that took us by
surprise." For example, the minister said that the service at the
workshops has been insufficient and pointed to bureaucracy in paperwork,
delays in granting credit to pay for the new appliances and other
concerns expressed by the population. "These are things that concern us
and that we are trying to resolve."
Garcia praised the participation of numerous institutions and
organizations in the implementation of the energy revolution and the
decisive contribution of the population.
AN EFFICIENT SYSTEM
In just three years since the 2004 energy crisis, Cuba has increased its
electricity generating capacity to a 4,700 megawatts capacity, 60
percent of which is produced under efficient conditions, said Vicente de
la O, general director of the Union Electrica state power company.
De la O recalled that the first task put in practice was to install
emergency electricity generators to provide power at all key services
and facilities, such as refrigeration for food products, bakeries,
hospitals, and food processing plants.
There are currently 6,841 such generators installed at 4,778 workplaces
around the country. These generators guarantee production and services
in extreme situations such as those provoked by hurricanes and other
phenomena. Besides, their occasional use during peak hours lowers the
demand on the national electric grid and helps avoid blackouts, said the
electric company executive.
A key factor in overcoming a production deficit is the generator sets
using diesel and fuel oil distributed throughout the country. The diesel
generators can now produce 1,320 megawatts of which 1,200 goes into the
national grid and the rest serves isolated systems that provide services
in places like the cays, said De la O.
The official said there will soon be a total of 696 fuel-oil generators.
He said all have been purchased and their assembly is under way. By the
end of this year their installed capacity will reach 500 megawatts.
De la O said that never before has the country been able to install a
capability of such magnitude in such a short time and with numerous
advantages. This was thanks to the fact that the generators are
relatively easy to install, use less fuel, help reduce losses during
distribution, operate with an electric input lower than thermoelectric
plants and have independent start up systems. In case of an emergency,
they can be transported easily to the place where they are needed.
De la O also gave a run down on the investments to increase the use of
natural gas derived from the oil extraction process and to make use of
hydraulic and wind resources to generate electricity. Another effort is
being made to increase the capacity of fuel storage facilities and
acquiring the specialized tools and transport vehicles needed for the
brigades working on the power lines.
He said that since May 2006, blackouts due to a generation deficit were
eliminated and losses on distribution lines reduced, resulting in a
savings of nearly US $200 million.
IMROVEMENTS IN THE NETWORKS
Antonio Pias, an electric company representative, gave the TV viewers a
detailed explanation on the rehabilitation of the distribution networks.
He said that 2.9 million breakers have been installed in private homes
and an additional 250,000 are still to be installed, mainly in the city
of Havana, where distribution networks are more complex.
Pias said that the work to install new electricity poles, transformers
and lines going to houses and buildings has progressed considerably. He
noted that both primary and secondary distribution lines are being replaced.
Investments made have made possible an increase in the national
production of electric cables and transformers, he added.
Pias recognized that losses of electricity in the distribution process
and accidental interruptions of service continue to be high due to
deteriorated lines and increased demand, especially from the residential
sector. Nonetheless, he said a slow but gradual improvement is beginning
to be seen.
The problem of low voltage areas are continuing to be eliminated said
Pias. So far, 642,000 homes have seen their voltage situation improve
with 240,000 still waiting. The official also spoke on advances in the
electrification of homes and settlements and announced the beginning of
an effort to rehabilitate street lighting in neighborhoods, beginning in
the first quarter of 2008.
MILLIONS OF HOME APPLIANCES DELVIERED
A total of 22.5 million home appliances are now in the hands of the
population, said Enrique Gomez, a member of the directorate of the Youth
Communist League, and the head of the countrys social worker program.
Gomez spoke on the effort of the young social workers in the different
tasks of the energy revolution.
Vice Minister of Interior Commerce Maria del Carmen Martinez, reported
that there are now 600 workshops around the country to repair the new
electrical appliances. She said that every one of Cubas 169
municipalities has at least one repair workshop. The government has
invested US $4.9 million to fix up installations being used for the
workshops and to buy specialized tools and spare parts.
To date, 4.5 million pieces of equipment have been repaired, some of
which required adjustments in their operating mechanisms, which
highlights the importance of providing the population with information
on their use, said Martinez.
STATE SECTOR STILL LAGS BEHIND
Electric company official Ricardo Gonzalez notes that the area with the
greatest potential for further savings is currently in the state sector,
which he said is lagging behind others.
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