Cuba opened its first solar farm this past spring with 14,000 panels that doubled the country’s capacity to harvest energy from the sun, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
The project is just one of seven farms in the works as leaders are being forced to consider renewables amid failed attempts at drilling for oil off its coast. Cuba relies heavily on oil imports.
"For us this is the future," said Ovel Concepcion, the director with Hidroenergia, the state-run company that is building the solar park. "This is just like having an oil well," he told the AP
The park is located 190 miles east of Havana in the central province of Cienfuegos.
Prior to the installation of the solar panels' contribution to Cuba’s power grid, in April, there were already about 9,000 panels used only for small isolated usage such as powering rural villages, schools and hospitals.
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So far the solar farm generates enough electricity that can power 780 homes and peak capacity is expected to hit 2.6 megawatts when the final panels are in place in September.
President Raul Castro of Cuba issued a decree in December creating seven working groups to set a 15-year plan to develop alternative energy including solar, wind and biomass.