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From NY-Transfer-News@abbie.blythe.org Fri May 26 06:44:32 2000
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 22:37:42 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Breakthrough" - Cuba's Energy Efficiency Program
Article: 94152
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
X-UIDL: 4e2bc703a5c1aa87342c2dda006f663c

Cuba's Energy Efficiency Program

By Arnie Coro, RHC's Science Editor, edited by NY Transfer News,
resend -Tue, 18 Apr 2000 02:11:01 -0400

Originally broadcast Sunday, 19-Sep-99

Hello amigos, and welcome to "Breakthrough," Radio Havana Cuba's science, technology and environment update... I am Arnie Coro, RHC's Science Editor, and today it is my pleasure to bring you an update on Cuba's energy efficiency program.

Cuban media recently highlighted Engineer Marcos Portal's statement in Camaguey province telling reporters that the country is now generating exactly 50 percent of its electricity using crude oil extracted from oil fields in Cuba. Minister Portal, a chemical engineer himself, told journalists that each ton of domestically produced oil was costing about one-third the price Cuba has to pay for imported oil.

He described how natural gas is also now playing a role in fueling power plants, not only at the ultra-modern ENERGAS project in Varadero, but also at a recently converted power station located in Santa Cruz del Norte, about thirty miles east of Havana. That power plant has three Soviet-designed and built 100-megawatt generators that originally burned high-quality fuel oil. Now the unit's boilers are using natural gas from a nearby oil field, something that has two important advantages: One, of course, is the fact that electricity-generating costs go down signficantly with the local fuel, and the other is that by burning processed natural gas, the plant now generates much less pollution from its huge 180-meter-high smokestack -- one of the tallest in the Caribbean -- which was especifically designed to reduce local thermal air pollution.

Cuban oil fields produce two very different qualities of the black gold at this moment. The western part of the island is the backbone of domestic oil production, but the oil extracted is of a very high density and has a high level of sulphur and other contaminants. Meanwhile in central Cuba, oil fields are yielding a much lighter and sulphur-free oil that is used by CUBA PETROLEO, the country's national oil company, for producing lubricants, something that also saves Cuba a lot of foreign currency.

But let's go back to the important statement by Basic Industry Minister Marcos Portal in Camaguey... He also told the press that the plan for continuous upgrades of Cuba's largest electrical generators is now going very well. One hundred-megawatt generators in the Santiago de Cuba "Rente" power plant are now on line, after a major overhaul that included signficant upgrades in the steam generators, control systems and other parts of the units.

The highlight of this upgrading process is that now the same basic machine, the turbo-generator, is producing each kilowatt hour of electricity using much less fuel oil. In other words, the machine -- after decades of service and admittedly not always given the best possible maintenance as recommended--is not only back to "as new" condition but, it can actually be demonstrated, it's in "better than new" condition -- something that is saving the nation a lot of foreign currency, too. Instead of those boilers, turbines and generators being scrapped, they are let's say... revived... at a much lower cost! According to some experts in the field of high-power electrical machinery, the basic equipment is really rugged and reliable, so revamping all the peripherals has proven to be a very wise and cost-saving decision.

But despite all the efforts in the field of more efficient generation of electricity, Cuba has to look at the next century with BIOMASS in mind, as the country's sugar industry is capable of providing very low-cost electricity during the harvest season, by burning biogas in more efficient higher pressure boilers than the ones used at the country's more than one hundred and fifty sugar mills.

And this was "Breakthrough" for today... an update on Cuba's efforts to generate more electricity from domestically produced oil, and also on how the country is upgrading its generators to reduce the amount of oil needed to produce each kilowatt hour.

From Havana, I am Arnie Coro, RHC's Science Editor, together with sound engineer Jose Costa Pupo, inviting you to join us next week at the same time and shortwave frequency for another edition of "Breakthrough."

Listen to RHC's "Breakthrough" report on Sunday evenings at 23:00 UTC, broadcast to North America via shortwave on 6000, 9550 and 9820 kHz.