Cuban interest for Danish top quality electricity grid

November 17, 2016

Climate visions resonates in Havana: Knowledge from Bornholm and Samsø combined with experiences from Copenhagen and Sønderborg  are to help Cuba become  free of oil in their electricity supply.

Specific experiences with green transition of Bornholm, Samsø, Sønderborg, Copenhagen and the rest of Denmark is now being tested across Cuba. Especially the successful Danish power plant system has Cubans' interest, says CEO Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard from Greenovation, who just met with key people in the capital Havana to talk about the Danish energy history

- They were all super ecstatic. The Cuban government is currently reviewing a draft of a cooperation agreement with Cubaenergía,  which is similar to an energy agency, he said.

Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard is the former Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen and former chairman of Elkraft, and with help from the Cuban embassy in Denmark they have succeeded in getting their message across to the Cuban authorities.

Behind the campaign is the Sustainable Platforms network, which besides from Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard also includes Steffen Löfvall from CBS, chief specialist Kaare Sandholt from the Chinese VE-center CNREC, advisor Helge Ørsted Pedersen and partner Mikael Togeby from Ea Energy Analysis.

The process with the Cubans started slowly, but is now accelerating quickly since the interest has been aroused among the Cubans.

- From the Danish perspective, we would like to combine the sustainability and climate cooperation agreement with a possibility for companies to export technology and know-how to Cuba, says Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard.

Despite a great potential for wind energy the Cuban electricity system is almost 100 percent oil based, just as it was in Denmark before the oil crisis of the 1970s. In the long term, Cuba cannot rely on cheap oil from their political friends in Venezuela, and furthermore the Cubans have an international commitment to reduce their CARBON emissions. Wind, solar, biogas and biomass/waste from sugar cane plantations could be some of the elements for Cuba to build their future on.

MODELS TESTED IN CHINA AND MEXICO

On their journey to Cuba, the Danish delegation brought a video, in which CEO Søren Hermansen from Samsø Energy Academy talks about the experiences of developing local green solutions on the small island in Kattegat. The Danes could also report on Ea Energy Analyses solution models for new energy systems in China, Mexico and East Africa.

-       I have just been in Mexico, where we have made a detailed model of the power plant system. We are actually expanding the model to the neighboring countries Cuba, Belize and Guatemala, says Mikael Togeby from Ea Energy Analysis.

The model can provide suggestions to which means Mexico can utilizes, if the country wants an even more ambitious climate policy., They would be well underway if the Cubans provides them the data.

BRANDING BORNHOLM

Green transformation requires efforts at many levels. Bornholm, which is at the forefront in terms of research, development and demonstration of smart energy solutions due to EcoGrid EU and EcoGrid 2.0, was also mentioned in the Sustainables Platforms workshop with the Cubans.

The Municipality of Bornholm supports the campaign in Cuba, who has approximately 12 million inhabitants and where tourism, rum and cigars compose the livelihood of many Cubans.

Marketing and Development Manager Klaus Vesløv from Bornholm's Energy & Supply is pleased about Bornholm being branded in the big world, and he is looking forward to see if any business opportunities will arise, through the contacts on Cuba, for Danish companies.

-       It would be incredibly exciting if this succeeds. On Bornholm, we have an ambitious agenda to be CARBON-neutral in 2025 and have thus engaged in very comprehensive research projects to learn more. We have also prepared specific simulation tools to transform good ideas into meaningful actions. We apply the comprehensive knowledge to our strategic energy planning, and it would be interesting if it were applicable in an international context.

 

-       I also believe that it would be useful, if some of us who contributes specially towards climate efforts in Denmark, could agree to unite in doing campaigns abroad, says Klaus Vesløv bearing in mind Bornholm, Samsø, ProjectZero in Sønderborg and Copenhagen, who has an ambition to become the world's first CARBON-neutral capital by 2025.

 UNCERTAIN OIL SUPPLY

Because of the pressure of uncertain oil supplies and demands for a more active climate policy, Cuba is in the process of exploring alternative solutions – with inspiration from the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA.

Upon request from IRENA, Energinet.dk has had two staff members in Cuba talking about the Danish power plant system - including system planning and how it has managed to integrate the equivalent of 42 percent wind energy on an annual basis, while simultaneously providing the Danes with power in their electrical outlets 99.99 percent of the time.

- Cuba has based its power system  on oil-fired power plants at 2-300 MW and a number of power plants under 15 MW. The decentralized structure can be a strength in the transition to renewable energy, assesses Rasmus Munch Sørensen, an analyst from Energinet.dk, who among other things, has advised the Cubans to mediate network and production planning together to optimize the system.

Energinet.dk also explained to the Cubans how many different actors in Denmark are collaborating. In the socialist-led Cuba, however, organizing is a bit more simplistic. Power plant stations and system operation are closely linked, and the political involvement of the responsible ministry is obvious.

- They reckon to build wind, solar and biogas/biomass. The question is how they will do it, without making the transition too expensive, says Rasmus Munch Sørensen.

 DANISH CLIMATE COOPERATION

Cuba's electricity grid does not connect with other countries’, but a submarine cable to Mexico can strengthen the security of supply. Precisely Mexico is one of the countries that Denmark formally are corporation with. Since the UN climate summit COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, Denmark has been committed to support other countries in reducing CARBON emissions. Concretely, DEA's unit for 'Global Cooperation delivers the support.

DEA has expatriated a staff member in Mexico City, and Energinet.dk collaborates with CENACE, who has the responsibility for the Mexican system, to make the country's electricity system ready for more green and varying electricity generation from i.e. wind. The Cooperation includes among other things grid planning, development, electricity market and electric services.

-        Time will tell whether we should do more in Cuba. We are open if the Cubans are interested in more exchange of experiences and if the financing is in order, says CEO Peter Jørgensen, who leads the consultancy business Energinet.dk Energy Consultancy.

Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard now hopes that the fieldwork will be followed by an academic seminar in the spring following analyses, modeling and pilot projects in Cuba.

-       The goal is for Cuba to obtain and implement a sustainable energy plan, he says.
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