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The time of renewable energy has arrived

A solar park in Pinar del Río with 12,080 panels has supplied almost six gigawatts of power in its first year, saving the country over half a million dollars in fossil fuels

9 de septiembre de 2016 - Granma

Near the city of Pinar del Río, in Cuba’s westernmost province of the same name, on one side of the highway which runs through the area known as Troncoso, a recent construction breaks the monotony of the desolate landscape, once home to fields of fruit trees.
This is the Pinar 220 A1 solar park, the first of its kind in the region, equipped with technology which promises to significantly change the province’s electricity supply system.
Despite its three megawatt peak capacity, a little over a year since its inauguration and the Pinar 220 A1 is already showing positive results.
Michel Casal, director of investments at the Cuban electric company in Pinar del Río, states that over the period, the park’s 12,080 solar panels have supplied almost six gigawatts of power to the National Electric System (SEN); highlighting that it would have cost the country over half a million dollars to generate the same amount of energy in one of thermoelectric plants which exist on the island, something that was achieved by the solar park at practically no cost.
Such results confirm in practice what had already been identified in studies: exploiting the strong sun rays enjoyed all-year-round inVueltabajo (as the region is also known), could help to considerably reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.
In regards to Pinar del Río’s first solar park, the highly efficient facility generates a daily average of around 13 MW. “So far the facility has been operating continuously and with a minimum level of maintenance work,” states Michel.
Based on this experience, new parks are continuing to be built across the province, according to the project director.
As such, work is currently underway on the first phase of a new park, located close to Troncoso which, when completed, should provide 2.7 MWp.
Meanwhile a further 28 areas across the entire province, where these types of facilities could be established, have also been identified.
Construction will begin on two of these sites this year, both of which are set to be completed by 2017. The first, located close to Pinar 220 A1 and with a four MWp capacity, will be built by a Chinese company, while the second, based in El Cafetal, San Luis municipality, with a capacity of 2.2 MWp, will be undertaken by the Cuban electric company in Pinar del Río.
The remaining projects are currently awaiting future investments by either Cuban or foreign entities.