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New shutdown of important thermoelectric plant aggravates energy crisis in Cuba

The Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric power plant, one of the largest in Cuba, was again disconnected from the national electricity system this Wednesday due to lack of water for cooling, a few hours after having re-established its operations.

When announcing the stoppage, the state-owned Unión Eléctrica (UNE) indicated in a statement that “as soon as any impact is foreseen, it will be communicated in a timely manner”.

Last Monday, this plant stopped working because it did not have a sufficient water level to keep it in operation, as reported by UNE at the time, which contributed to the fact that on that day only 60% of the needs were covered during the hours of greatest demand.

The UNE then informed that this situation at the Guiteras plant was a consequence of the serious industrial fire that started last Friday at the fuel depot base in the city of Matanzas, in west of the country, and which until this Wednesday had not been controlled.

A u sina is located 2.7 kilometers from the incident area.

The day before, Guiteras was synchronized with the national system, but remained in operation only for 17 minutes and, after this new interval, it was connected again this Wednesday morning.

At noon, the technical director of UNE, Lázaro Guerra, told television state that, after being re-synchronized, the plant was contributing 215 megawatts (MW) to the national system, but warned that it had problems with excessive water consumption and that work was being done to correct the error.

For this day, UNE predicted an energy deficit of 30% of the generation capacity in the hours of greatest demand, which implies prolonged blackouts on the island.

Power outages — due to failures and damage to outdated thermoelectric plants, lack of fuel and scheduled maintenance — have affected different areas of the country for months and, since August, also the capital of Hawaii na.

In July, blackouts were recorded in 29 of 31 days, according to data from UNE.

Blackouts, which sometimes last more than 10 consecutive hours, overload all areas of the economy and significantly affect daily life, which begins to fuel social unrest in Cuba.

As early as last year, blackouts were one of the reasons behind the anti-government protests in 11 of July 2021, the highest in decades, according to analysts.

Cuba depends heavily on foreign oil to produce energy (the thermoelectric plants generate two-thirds of the electricity) and its main supplier, Venezuela, has significantly reduced its transfers.

The Cuban government hopes to reduce this dependence and has a plan so that, by 2030, 37% of its energy matrix (just over 3.500 megawatts) comes from renewable sources.

The country has been experiencing a serious economic crisis for two years. ca due to the pandemic, the tightening of US sanctions and failures in national management.

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