Renewable energy in Cuba:
Using biofuels to combat the energy crisis
The use of biofuels does not necessarily have a negative impact on food production and thus on food security. The two goals can be combined, as is shown in an SDC project in Cuba. In July 2012 in Guantánamo a plant started work which transforms jatropha seeds into biofuel. Thanks to the Swiss biomass project, six Cuban communes now benefit from cheaper, renewable and reliable energy.
Cuba wishes to reduce its dependence on expensive fossil fuels. The country now obtains 28% of its energy from biomass. Sugar cane is an important energy source but depending on soil quality and local needs other plants are also used. The jatropha plant, which originally comes from India, is gaining in importance. It grows even on poor soil that is not suitable for agriculture and can be ideally combined with cattle raising. If there is enough unused land available, the jatropha plant does not pose a danger to other food crops. Its cultivation makes sense for ecological as well as for economic reasons.
First processing plant
The success of the pilot project and next steps
The project partly satisfies energy requirements in rural areas and strengthens the food security of the agricultural population. It also fills tanks and puts food on the table. The dialogue with the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment is centrally important. If the results of the pilot project flow into national legislation for the promotion of renewable energy, there is a good chance that other districts will also benefit.
Summary of the ProjectDepartement
Indio Hatuey Experimental Centre
The reduction of energy imports is a high priority for the Cuban government. The production of renewable energy at district level is a possible solution to the energy crisis and is being promoted.
The aim of the project is to show that energy production from biomass makes sense in environmental and in economic terms and that it can improve the living conditions of the rural population.
6 districts with 10'000 direct beneficiaries and an overall population of 400'000.
Phase I: CHF 2'330'000
Phase II: CHF 4'175'000
Length of project
Phase I: 2008–2012
Phase II: 2012–2015
Contact via website