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Cuba welcomes 7th powership to its fleet in struggle to keep lights on

Reuters · 11/15/2022 11:05
Cuba welcomes 7th powership to its fleet in struggle to keep lights on

- Cuba welcomed on Tuesday a seventh floating power plant to its growing fleet of shipboard generators as the communist-run country seeks to bolster its grid and bring relief to citizens who for months have suffered daily, hours-long blackouts.

The so-called powership, leased from Turkey-based Karadeniz Holding, is expected to feed an additional 110 megawatts of electricity into Cuba´s grid by month's end, officials said, or about one-tenth the average daily generation shortfall.

The seven floating powerplants, which will generate a total of 400 megawatts, represent one part of an unorthodox and improvised strategy announced earlier this year to stem a growing energy crisis.

The cash-strapped government has said it also aims to purchase small diesel-fired, land-based generators to supplement the grid, and has announced plans to service its larger, though obsolete, Soviet-era fuel-fired power plants.

Cuba's energy woes is perhaps the most painful symptom of a deeper financial crisis caused by external factors such as U.S. sanctions, the COVID-19 pandemic and poor economic management.

The modern powerships provide quick relief. They carry their own generators fueled by oil or gas, anchor close to land and connect with dedicated transmission lines to the local electricity grid. They are typically leased by a host country.

Cuban oil-fired power plants are, by comparison, decrepit and inefficient, averaging 35 years of age, with a backup system of hundreds of smaller generators at least 15 years old.

Just 5% of Cuba's power currently comes from alternative energy sources.

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood
Editing by Bill Berkrot)

((marc.frank@thomsonreuters.com; +537-833-3145; Reuters Messaging: marc.frank.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.))