Cuba: Two wind farms survive hurricane Sandy without being damaged

Hurricane Sandy, before hitting major parts of the USA, previously devastated large areas in the Caribbean, amongst them in Haiti and Cuba, where also dozens of people were killed.

Thousands of houses have been destroyed e.g. in the Eastern part of Cuba, mainly around Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second largest city.

Also the power supply in the area has been seriously affected by the hurricane.

The affected area, the province of Holguín, accommodates two wind farms, Gibara I (5,1 MW, six 850 kW wind turbines installed in 2008) and Gibara II (4,5 MW, six 750 kW machines installed in 2010).

Both wind farms were fully hit by hurricane Sandy with wind speeds of up to 180 kilometers/110 miles per hour. After first inspections, the Cuban government announced last week at a meeting with the World Wind Energy Association in Havana that none of the two wind farms has shown any major damage caused by the hurricane and that they still provide electricity for the local grid.
Prof. Conrado Moreno, Co-Chair of the WWEC2013 and Professor at the Cuban Center for Renewable Energy Technologies CETER: “Cuba installed the two wind farms closeby Gibara in the years 2008 and 2010, being aware that they may be hit by a hurricane.

Hence our experts have taken all necessary provisions to make them hurricane-proof. Hurricane Sandy has now clearly demonstrated that wind farms in Cuba are safe and reliable even under extreme conditions. Thanks to the decentralized structure of the Cuban power supply system, the overall damage to the power system could be minimized and only a relatively limited part of the island faces currently a lack of power. With more decentral renewable energies deployed in the near future, the Cuban power supply will hence become even more resilient and more stable. Of course we want to share our experience with the world wind community and we are pleased that we can invite to the the WWEC2013 taking place in Havana in June 2013.”

WWEA President Prof. He Dexin: “We congratulate our Cuban colleagues for having mastered so well this extreme challenge that the hurricane represents for a wind farm. There are several world regions where the knowhow of how wind farms can survive very strong winds will be crucial in the future, not only in the Caribbean but also in the East Asian countries where typhoons are a regular threat for wind farms. International collaboration and exchange of experience will help us all by learning from each other. And, also very important, wind power, together with other renewable energy sources, can play a vital role in the recovery of the areas that have been devastated by natural disaster like the recent hurricane Sandy.”

Stefan Gsänger, WWEA Secretary General: “Hurricane Sandy has reminded us of the vulnerability of our civilization by natural disasters, like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan a year ago. Also similar like 20 months ago, Sandy has demonstrated the high risks of nuclear power and the reliability of wind power, even under such extreme conditions. The survival of the Cuban wind farms is a strong sign, like the Japanese wind farm last year which was hit by the earthquake and a huge tsunami wave without being damaged. All this happened while nuclear and fossil power stations have not been able to provide electricity any more. We should learn our lessons from this and accelerate as fast as possible the shift towards decentralized renewable energy such as wind power, all over the world.”