Sugarcane by-product could help power Cuba

Guernsey-based Havana Energy is to establish biomass power generation plants adjacent to sugar mills in Cuba.

To do so, the company – part of the Esencia Group – has teamed up with Zerus, a company linked to the Cuban Ministry of Sugar, to develop a pilot 30MW power plant at the Ciro Redondo sugar mill, around 400km from Havana.

Today just seven per cent of Cuba’s energy is produced by renewable energy sources and the Cuban government is eager to increase this percentage, using the natural resources of the country to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

The Ministry of Sugar and the Cuban National Electricity Board hope to increase the power generated from all Cuban sugar mills in a move that would help provide power to areas that presently have a poor supply.

Nelson Labrada, the Cuban vice-minister of Sugar, said that by using sugarcane bagasse – the fibrous residual left after sugarcane crushing – for power generation, it could be possible to generate up to 40 per cent of the country’s energy needs.

The capital investment for the pilot plant is expected to provide a return of investment within five years. In addition to the pilot plant, the companies plan to develop a further four power plants in the future.