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Renewable energy in Cubas Sierra Maestra mountains

A total of 17 mini-hydroelectric generating plants are now in operation in the territory, and another one will soon be completed at Rio Grande. Combined, the hydroelectric facilities generate a total of 800 kilowatts, benefiting more than 17,500 persons that live in areas out of reach of the power lines supplied by the National Electrical System.

Hydropower provide people living in La Plata, Uvero, Palma Mocha, La Magdalena, Malverde del Turquino, La Alcarraza and dozens of other communities located in the mountains as well as all along the narrow coast line, that now has electricity for peoples basic needs.

Notwithstanding the significant savings possible, both in material and financial resources, the use of hydroelectric power generation takes advantage of the more than 35 rivers and streams that go through the municipality on their way to the sea. Those rivers and streams pour some 840 million cubic meters of water every year into the Caribbean.

Solar energy is another widely used source providing power to 80 rural schools. Solar cells are also used to provide electricity to 50 public TV viewing facilities built for residents in the mountainous areas.

The installation of the solar photovoltaic cells makes possible the development of the audiovisual educational program in the mountains. The program uses 340 TV sets, 243 desktop computers and 220 VCR machines for TV classes and conferences at the different educational levels, from grade school to university and even postgraduate training.

At the same time 25 schools located in the "dead" spots for radio and television reception are now using satellite broadcast receivers that provide high quality audio and video signals of the nations radio and TV stations.

Also, in areas where the use of renewable energy electricity generating is not possible, and in others where for strategic reasons it is essential to have electrical service available, the government has proceeded to install 22 Diesel Generating Sets. These assure service to places of economic and social importance, public lightning and the operation of home electrical appliances now in the homes of farm families of the Sierra Maestra.

In Guama it is difficult, though not impossible, to build dams to hold back some of the water that drains into the sea. If this could be achieved it will open up great perspectives of generating much more electricity. The use of wind energy is another valuable source to be tapped.

Nevertheless, the possibility of interconnecting the hydro power system and then connecting it to the National Electric System has not been ruled out as an option to help continue sustainable development in the mountains. Before that could be implemented certain problems in the networks, as well as the power and voltage stability of the hydroelectric plants that operate in these mountains, must be solved

Source: José Antonio Torres, Granma

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