British Solar Company Lights the Way for Utility-Scale Solar in Cuba

Americas Uncategorized

Hive Energy has become the first British company to secure a major solar project contract in Cuba. The contract to deliver the 50MW project on the caribbean island was awarded to the company at the end of May by the Union Electrica de Cuba (UNE). The solar development will be the first utility scale solar project to be built in Cuba and is expected to generate up to 93 GWh of electricity annually. The project is expected to be completed by 2018.

Following the end of half a century of isolation the contract marks Cuba’s serious efforts to clean up its fuel supply and move away from a dependence on foreign oil to a portfolio of wind, sun and sugar cane. Combustible fuels are also the island’s primary source of contamination and following five decades of a U.S embargo Cuba’s power grid and plants are costly and inefficient.  All of these factors have forced the island to look for renewable solutions to support the nations economy.

The country has plans to spend $3.5 billion in the coming years to increase its supply of renewable energy.  In 2015 only 4% of Cuba’s electricity came from renewable sources but by 2020 the island plans to deliver over 20% utilisation of renewable energy and drive down the cost of electricity from its 2013 rates of $21.10kW to $17.90kW by 2020.*

Giles Redpath, CEO Hive Energy; “Hive Energy strives to deliver solar power to the frontiers of new markets. We are excited and delighted to be working with Cuba’s UNE to support their plans for a future powered by renewable energy. Delivering the first utility scale solar project in the Caribbean is just one step towards the island achieving this goal”.  

The solar development will be constructed by Hive Energy in the Mariel Free zone, a huge new port which has been designed to act as a regional hub for the island. The 50MW project will be similar in scale to the UK’s largest 48MW PV solar farm, Southwick, on the Hampshire coast which was also developed by Hive Energy and visited by a delegation from Cuba’s UNE in April 2016. 

Bernardo Fernandez is Hive Energy’s Director of Operations across Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean:

“The country can definitely benefit from the inclusion of renewable energies in their energy matrix. The current prices that PV offers will not only clean up the generation but will also provide a much cheaper energy source than their current alternative”

Cuba has already laid the foundations for a future that harnesses the power of the sun. Outside the city of Cienfuegos, the government has built a manufacturing plant that has produced 14,000 photovoltaic solar panels. It has also constructed a 4.5-megawatt solar plant near the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo and the University of Havana is studying the prospect of Cuba running its own verification, control and certification labs for photovoltaic cells and modules in the future.

CIER 2015 – Renewable Energy Conference, Havana, Cuba 2015.

Hive Energy, ranked as the Highest Pure Play Developer in the UK by Solar Intelligence and the third largest British developer by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in April 2015, “UK Solar League Tables: shining a light on the top players”, has a proven track record in the delivery of multiple Solar Parks totalling over 300MW over 32 sites in the last 5 years. 

Hive Energy is the owner and operator of 18MW of UK sites and 30 commercial roof systems and developed the 49MW Southwick Estate Solar Park, the largest grid connected PV site in the UK. 

The Hive Group has generated over £15m of profit in its 5 years of operation. 

Founded in 2010 by Giles Redpath, Hive started life installing rooftop solar on farm buildings. From there, Hive began creating solar parks on brownfield sites (land that has been developed before) and lower grade farmland, and have established a strong track-record of creating clean and renewable energy for both urban and rural users. 

Hive Energy is a member of the Solar Trade Association, British Photovoltaic Association and a proud supporter of the work of the British Beekeepers Association and other environmental causes.