Strong Partnerships Vital for Accelerating Cuba’s Energy Transformation

The Cuba Sustainable Energy Forum 2018 was held in Havana on January 30-31, 2018. It provided a platform for the Cuban authorities to present the country’s sustainable energy and foreign investment opportunities, and for the EU to showcase renewable energy technologies, lessons learnt and financing instruments available to Cuba.
Strong Partnerships Vital for Accelerating Cuba’s Energy Transformation
Havana, Cuba courtesy of IRENA

IRENA’s Director-General Adnan Z. Amin used the opportunity to underscore that strong partnerships are vital for accelerating Cuba’s energy transformation and realizing its goal of generating 24 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030.

For Cuba, a small island state with a dependence on imported oil which led to gasoline and power shortages in mid-2017, the need to develop its indigenous renewable resources is a pressing one.

Today, less than five percent of Cuba’s electricity is generated from renewables. The government’s goal is ambitious and backed by a well-educated labor force and domestic renewables organizations such as the Centro de Investigaciones de Energía Solar, that are working to build the technical capacity throughout Cuba to scale up renewable energy.

However, the country faces key barriers to accessing financing for renewable energy projects. With the government's renewable energy investment goal of $3.5 billion, foreign investment in the small island state is seen by IRENA as critical.

In this context, Cuba is strengthening its engagement with IRENA through the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative, which has surpassed its initial goals of mobilizing $500 million for renewables and deploying 100 MW of solar PV in SIDS by 2020. The Agency has been supporting Cuban renewable energy deployment since 2013, at both technical and political levels, through convening technical expert exchanges with other countries, and by participating in Cuban energy conferences and workshops.

 Furthermore, IRENA has recommended a state-owned 10-MW solar PV project in Cuba to its partner, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), for an award of $15 million in co-funding — Given Cuba's renewable energy financing constraints, the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility has the ability to inspire investor confidence and attract further finance.

During a meeting with Cuba's Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Minister of Energy and Mines, and Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, the IRENA Director-General agreed to strengthen the partnership between IRENA and Cuba in support of the country's energy transformation.

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