Cuba turns to Sun to cut reliance on fossil fuels

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HAVANA, March 5 (Xinhua) — Sun-drenched Cuba is committed to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels by turning year-round sunshine into an abundance of clean energy.

The island is already home to some 60 solar farms and the government plans to build more in the country where solar irradiance — the power per unit area received from the sun — reaches 1,825 kilowatt hours per square meter, above the world average.

Cuba is manufacturing solar panels at the Electronic Components Company in westernmost Pinar del Rio province.

In Cuba, “producing a kilowatt (of electricity) from the sun costs from six to seven U.S. cents, cheaper than with conventional fuel, which costs between 15 and 20 cents,” said solar power expert Daniel Stolik, a professor at the University of Havana.

Converting the nation’s energy production into renewable sources is one of the pillars of the government’s economic reform program, which aims to cut costly fuel imports.

Cuba’s existing renewable energy sources together with newly built facilities are expected to generate more than 1,100 gigawatts this year.

Currently under construction are two solar farms, La Herradura 1 and La Herradura 2 in eastern Las Tunas province.

Another four solar farms have been completed in the provinces of Villa Clara, Holguin and Granma, all connected to the national grid, and 19 more are planned.

According to the government’s plan to expand renewable energy capacity, by 2030, clean energy should represent 24 percent of power generated in Cuba.

The solar irradiance Cuba’s nearly 111,000-square-kilometer land surface receives is equal to the amount of energy produced by 50 million tons of fuel.

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