In contrast to the global average of 412 watts/person, the current state of electricity consumption in Cuba sits considerably lower at just over 200 watts per person in 2021, slightly less than half of the global average. Almost 80% of this energy, or roughly 158 watts/person, is generated from fossil fuels, such as gas which alone supplies close to 20 watts/person. The rest is provided by clean, low-carbon energy sources including biofuels and a small portion from solar, hydropower, and wind energy. The overall reliance on fossil energy is significant while the adoption of low-carbon electricity is slightly over a fifth of their total consumption. This low level of electricity generation could be contributing to slower economic progress as energy is a key driver of industrial and technological development. Another important observation is that Cuba is entirely self-sufficient when it comes to electricity, neither importing nor exporting any.
A strategy to bolster low-carbon electricity generation in Cuba could take inspiration from successful countries that have harnessed the potential of nuclear, wind and solar energy. Evidently, countries like Sweden, France, and Finland generate high volumes of low-carbon electricity through nuclear power. On the other hand, Denmark and Sweden generate considerable electricity through wind, which could be a viable approach for Cuba given its geographic location and climatic conditions. Solar energy could also be harnessed more effectively since countries like Australia and Greece have successfully integrated it into their energy mix. As a sunny, tropical country, Cuba could exploit solar and wind resources to create a robust, sustainable, and clean energy infrastructure.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Cuba is dominated by fluctuations in biofuel generation since the early 1970s. There was a slight decline in biofuel-based electricity in 1972, while the late 70s witnessed a modest increase. The 1990s, on the other hand, saw considerable volatility with years of both increase and decline in biofuel-generated electricity. However, it was the late 2000s that marked a significant, albeit inconsistent, escalation in biofuel-based electricity generation with an intense growth through 2008 to 2012, interrupted by large declines in 2009 and 2011. The past decade has been relatively stable, with a slight growth trend towards 2020 and 2021, indicating potential for solidifying Cuba's commitment to low-carbon energy sources in the future.