Energy supply in Cuba is largely based on thermal sources of electricity generation, with oil and gas making up 96 per cent of energy supply and only 4 per cent made up of renewable generation including biomass (3 per cent) and small-scale hydropower (1 per cent). Cuba has over 170 small hydro plants spread throughout the country, the largest being the 43 MW Hanabanilla plant.
The Cuban government has aspirations to increase the share of renewables significantly over the next two decades, to generate 24 per cent of the country’s electricity by 2030. This will be comprised largely of biomass and wind, with additional small hydro playing a lesser role.
With no major rivers or large bodies of inland water, Cuba’s development of hydropower will remain focused on small projects. Small hydro technical potential is estimated to be 135 MW. The government has drawn up plans for the development of 74 small hydropower plants, representing over 56 MW in capacity (274 GWh). This would nearly double the country’s current hydropower capacity, producing an estimated 274 GWh of renewable generation annually and offsetting up to 230,000 tonnes of CO² emissions.
Cuba has signed a deal with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development that will see KFAED provide USD 30 million in financing for the construction of 34 small hydropower projects. KFAED has said the 34 small hydro projects will be constructed on existing infrastructure and have a cumulative capacity of about 14.6 MW. The initiative will also include construction of three linking substations that will transmit to Cuba’s national grid, along with about 75 km of transmission lines. KFAED did not specify when it expects the first small hydro plant to come on-line, but that the initiative should be completed within seven years.
Cuba is one of the few countries in the world that does not belong to any major international finance institutions (IFIs), including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). When a distressed macroeconomic situation is coupled with weak institutional capacity in the energy sector, IFIs can provide a guarantee that is critical to addressing the risks associated with these factors.
Cuba’s electricity grid was developed in the early 2000s when older Russian systems began to fail, and is the second most decentralised grid in the world after Denmark.
This country profile is featured in the 2018 Hydropower Status Report. You can download the full report here.
This profile was last updated in June 2018.