UK-Cuba joint venture to build biomass power plant

A UK and Cuban joint venture will invest $250m in building a biomass power plant near Havana, in one of the largest renewable energy partnerships between the two nations.
According to the Financial Times, Havana Energy, a UK group chaired by former UK energy minister Brian Wilson, will form a joint venture with Zerus SA, a state-owned company in Cuba’s Ministry of Sugar, to build up to five power plants fuelled by bagasse, the residue that remains after sugar cane processing.
Construction on a pilot plant at Ciro Redondo Sugar Mill, a 100-year old plant on government-owned land about 400km outside Havana, will begin this year. The venture will build four more plants in the project’s second stage.
“It is possible via the sugar mills and bagasse-based power plants to generate up to 40 per cent of the energy needs of the country today,” said Nelson Labrada, Cuba’s vice-minister of sugar, in a statement.
According to Havana Energy, 7 per cent of Cuba’s energy demand currently provided by renewable energy sources, and the company has identified 56 sugar refineries in the country suitable for biomass power generation.
The UK group will invest $250m in the project, and its Cuban partner will contribute in-kind contributions including land and sugar cane, said Mr Wilson. The group expects that the pilot plant, set to cost $50m, will provide a return on its investment within five years.
Havana Energy is part of the Escensia group, a UK company that works in the Cuban tourism, trade and energy sectors. The company has also partnered with Cuban government ministries to develop hydropower plants and wind farms.
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