(Cautious) easing of the electricity situation

Archive: The control room of the “Guiteras” (Source: Radio Rebelde)

The energy situation will remain tense in Cuba this summer. However, after the “Antonio Guiteras”, Cuba’s largest power plant, was finally able to ingite last week after a false start, the daily generation deficit has been significantly reduced. The question is: for how long?

As reported by Cuba’s state-owned electrical company UNE on June 20th, the deficit will be 90 megawatts. Yesterday, 390 megawatts were announced. Since the start of the “Guiteras,” the values have oscillated around this range. In practice, this means significantly fewer power cuts. Before the start of the Guiteras, the values varied between 500 and 900 megawatts, similar to last summer, when many provinces were hit with daily power cuts of eight hours or more.

Nevertheless, there is no reason to breathe a sigh of relief: the first power-up attempt of the Guiteras caused worry lines in the ranks of the technicians, after the turbine had to be taken off the grid after only a few hours due to boiler damage. Although a renewed maintenance campaign under high pressure was able to rectify the problem within 10 days, the 35-year-old power plant is still in urgent need of a comprehensive general overhaul, which cannot begin before the end of the year.

But for the time being, the Guiteras is feeding power back into the grid. As energy journalist José Miguel Solis reports, even with 265 instead of the originally planned 230 megawatts. Whether that will last all summer is questionable. “Generating more electricity is not without risk,” warned the plant’s manager.

Cuba’s power grid is currently in a critical a situation, marked by outages and breakdowns at several large power plants as well as acute fuel shortages. At the beginning of the year, several plants underwent maintenance to make them “fit for summer,” the period with the highest consumption in Cuba. In addition, almost one-fifth of the electricity is now generated by rented floating power plants, while another part comes from smaller diesel generators, which are also currently being overhauled.

This article was first published on Cuba Heute, a German-language news portal.

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