HAVANA – Cuba has opened an experimental wind farm, hoping alternative energy sources can one day ease occasional power shortages while reducing the island's dependence on oil, state news media reported Sunday.
The $3.4 million park, featuring six, 180-foot windmills and known as "Los Canarreos," was established on Isla de la Juventud, an island south of Havana, according to the Communist Party youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde.
Exactly when the park was inaugurated was unclear, but officials estimate that during its first year of operation it could produce 1,800 megawatts of electricity. That would save Cuba about $136,000 in oil costs on international market, the newspaper said.
The park was built using French technology, and its windmills are designed to be disassembled quickly in case of hurricanes or tropical storms.
Officials hope to finish work on another wind park with six windmills located in the eastern province of Holguin by the end of the year.
The collapse of the Soviet Union sparked widespread energy shortages in Cuba, and while things have improved since then, blackouts are still sometimes a problem during the scorching summers months.
Cuba produces its own oil and natural gas, but domestic production is not enough to meet its energy needs. An agreement with oil-rich Venezuela allows the island to buy nearly 100,000 barrels of oil a day under preferential terms, while Cuba sends thousands of volunteer doctors to Venezuela who offer free care to the poor.