As a part of a political movement to develop renewables and more efficiently use energy in Cuba, the state-owned company COPEXTEL will be responsible for commercializing photovoltaic (PV) systems for the Cuban residential sector. According to Rolando Gómez, general manager of Ecosol Energía division, these systems use solar panels and inverters that convert the solar energy available into electricity for consumption in homes, commercial institutions, and industries, thus producing important savings on electricity bills. Likewise, it allows users to self-generate electricity, either for personal consumption or to send directly to the national electric grid, he emphasized.

However, the installation of PV systems requires specific conditions, such as available flat rooftops or ground surface of 12.5 square meters. In the case of the roof, it must be of concrete, and in the case of ground, it needs to be paved (cemented or asphalted) and exposed to the sun all year long. Preferably, the surface should be oriented horizontally or in such a manner that permits adequate leveling of the photovoltaic system (Figure 1).

1. Photovoltaic power systems are now commercially available to the Cuban residential sector. Source: Shutterstock

Susana Delgado, headwoman at the sales department, explained that clients can visit company offices or call COPEXTEL’s phone center to order systems. In both cases, the PV system will be tentatively booked until a technician visits the location (usually within seven days) where the customer wants the PV module to be installed and evaluates the conditions that must exist for the proper functioning of the equipment. Within five working days, the client can proceed to purchase the PV system, and this could be made either in cash, by means of electronic payment, or by requesting a credit from a banking institution.

The cost of a PV module is 55,000 Cuban pesos (about $2,292), and includes all the system components, its transportation, and the visits of the technical personnel for its installation and setup. Afterwards, the client must visit the electric company to arrange a contract for the connection of the purchased PV system to the national grid.

This is the first time that PV modules will be commercialized to the Cuban people in the national currency, which is expected to increase demand markedly. In this first stage of the project, PV systems will be marketed only in the capital city (Havana), which is where buyers must reside in order to guarantee the technical visit for the service, including the transportation and installation, in a way of protecting clients. Nevertheless, it’s expected that service will be extended to the rest of the country in the near future.

Amaury Pérez Sánchez (amauryps@nauta.cu) is a chemical engineer based in Cuba with the University of Camagüey.