New shutdown of important thermoelectric plant aggravates energy crisis in Cuba

The country’s state energy company says that the situation is a consequence of the serious industrial fire that started last Friday in the west of Cuba and that until this Wednesday was not controlled; nation has been experiencing a serious economic crisis for two years

EFE/ Ernesto Mastrascusavat fire;  Petroleum
Black smoke from a burning oil tank is seen in Matanzas, Cuba

the central Antonio Guiteras thermoelectricone of the largest Cuba, disconnected again from the national electrical system this Wednesday, 10th, due to lack of water for cooling, a few hours after having re-established its operations. Upon announcing the strike, the state-owned electrical union (UNE) indicated in a statement that “as soon as any impact is foreseen, it will be communicated in a timely manner”. Last Monday, this plant stopped working because it did not have enough water to keep it in operation, as reported by the UNE at the time, which contributed to the fact that on that day only 60% of the needs were covered during the hours of greatest demand. UNE then informed that this situation at the Guiteras power plant was a consequence of the serious industrial fire that started last Friday at the fuel depot base in the city of Matanzas, in the west of the country, and that until this Wednesday had not been controlled. The plant is located 2.7 kilometers from the incident area.

The day before, Guiteras was synchronized with the national system, but it remained in operation for only 17 minutes and, after this new interval, it was connected again on the morning of this Wednesday. At midday, UNE technical director Lázaro Guerra told state television that, after being re-synchronized, the plant was contributing 215 megawatts (MW) to the national system, but warned that it had problems of excessive consumption. of water and that work was being done to correct the error. For this day, the UNE predicted an energy deficit of 30% of the generation capacity in the hours of greatest demand, which implies prolonged blackouts on the island. Power outages – due to failures and damage to outdated thermoelectric plants, lack of fuel and scheduled maintenance – have affected different areas of the country for months and, since August, also the capital Havana.

In July, blackouts were recorded on 29 of the 31 days, according to UNE data collected by the Efe news agency. The blackouts, which sometimes last for more than 10 consecutive hours, overwhelm all areas of the economy and significantly affect daily life, which begins to fuel social unrest in Cuba. As early as last year, blackouts were one of the reasons behind the anti-government protests of July 11, 2021, the biggest in decades, according to analysts. Cuba is heavily dependent on foreign oil to produce energy (thermoelectric plants generate two-thirds of the electricity) and its main supplier, Venezuela, significantly reduced its transfers. The Cuban government hopes to reduce this dependence and has a plan so that, by 2030, 37% of its energy matrix (just over 3,500 megawatts) will come from renewable sources. The country has been experiencing a serious economic crisis for two years due to the pandemic, the tightening of sanctions United States and failures in national management.

*With information from EFE

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