The road that takes to this place shows that something huge is being built some kilometers beyond: the movement of trucks, big open ditches in both sides of the road and some new constructions that arise in this zone.
This is the first time that such engineering and constructive activity is developed in Cuba and it has dealt with difficult obstacles like the instability of a karstic soil, whether conditions and the challenges of carrying out an expensive project like this one in a developing country.
According to the managers, 34 wind turbines of 1, 5 megawatts (MWs) of power will be placed in La Herradura-1. Five electrical circuits will compose them. These windmills are 65 meters in height with blades of 37 meters of length. Besides, La Herradura-2 will be integrated by 20 wind turbines of 2, 5 MWs, with almost double power of energy production. These wind turbines are 80 meters in height with blades of 54 meters of length.
The providers are Goldwind, a worldwide supplier of wind turbines in the last three years and Dongfang, a specialized group in renewable energy and high technology with more than a half century of expertise.
Flat fields and low vegetation in this zone are suitable to take advantage of the winds that come from the Atlantic Ocean to the north coast. Wind prospection studies developed by the Provincial Center of Meteorology and other national institutions confirm the existence of a sustainable circulation of air with a proficiency of 6,8 meters per second at 50 meters of height. It proved the feasibility of the proposal.
A LONG PATH
Several years have gone since the work in this area started in 2013. Technicians and specialists from the Company of Investment Development in Renewable Energy Resources (Edifre) carry out this project in spite they spend a long time working on the tough ground far away from home. They feel proud of being pioneers in such construction of great relevance that demands hard studies and previous civil works to facilitate the transportation, storage and the assembling of the equipment.
Adela Álvarez Fernández, manager of the Integrated Directorate in Wind Projects in Las Tunas, expressed "Nobody in Cuba has tried this before; we are pioneers, learning from the continuous work. Doubts come out every day, unexpected questions and we get prepared constantly for the execution of the main work, the most complex one. The Cuban brigades will carry out the construction of the civil work, and the providers will assist the technic work in some stages."
In Carúpano port, at about 35 kilometers from the place where the wind farms will be built, some modifications were made to guarantee the safe and quick downloading of the equipment and special conditions were also devised to storage them temporally. A way out road was constructed for the transportation of this equipment. The technology for the wind farms of Manatí and Holguín will enter to the country by this port.
Miguel Casí Céspedes, main specialist of the technical group explained that "40 kilometers is the distance to be covered for the transportation of some elements. To carry out this complicated task, two curves of the road were modified. The first one in Delicias and the other one close to the former Agricultural Aviation airstrip of Lora. The general heavy cargo may be sent by rail to that airstrip. A temporary warehouse area was built there. Then, the cargo will be moved for its assembling.
Cuba doesn't have the necessary devices for constructions of such magnitude. That's why part of the budget of this investment was used to acquire professional large trucks for the transportation of the components and a crane of 500 tons for the assembling. The foundation and installation process of the towers will involve about 500 workers.
The engineer pointed out, in detail, that a power substation was designed to send the electricity generated by both wind farms. It will be connected to the National Power Grid through two distribution lines that will be built. The first will deliver the electricity towards the power substation located near the Antonio Guiteras sugar mill, and the other towards Velazco, in Holguín. Likewise, two output lines to connect nearby customers were requested.
He continued explaining that the wind turbines are high, which demands a foundation of 350 cubic meters of concrete. A Support and Logistic Center was devised for avoiding the contamination of the aggregates that will arrive from Las Parras quarry.
This building has a laboratory to study the quality of the materials and the final product. Likewise, 60 grade steel specially produced by Antillana de Acero (Havana) and Acinox Las Tunas will be used for the foundation.
IN HARMONY WITH THE ENVIRONMENT
The aforementioned works are supported on environmental investigations developed by Cuban specialist and institutions. They monitored the noise and the behavior of the waters in the estuary; and also carried out researches on birds, coastal flooding, the recovery of some recyclable waste; as well as the strict the fulfillment of environmental licenses and the management plans for endemic and invasive species.
Both wind farms are designed to withstand winds of hurricanes Category 3, maximum, and Category 4, minimum. The results of the studies carried out on the area about the probability of weather events and the penetration of the sea shows that hurricane Category 5 intensity goes through that zone every fifty years, and the structures will last two decades approximately.
Álvarez Fernández revealed that one of the most interesting outcome was related to the identification of the migratory air corridor of birds. "We cannot allow the deaths of these birds by the collision with the blades of the wind turbines. A maintenance program will be scheduled during the migration dates that we already know. Likewise, we will promote a study related to the nesting season to analyze the impact of the detonations for the foundation and its effect on the environment.
The wind farms are a very suitable way of producing clean energy but the building of this kind of infrastructure impacts on the environment producing the dispersion of birds, the loss of vegetation, habitat and ecological niches, with the decrease of species by migration. Nevertheless, the studies carried out in La Herradura will hugely mitigate the effects of the introduction of such technology because of the investigations, some of them first developed in Cuba.
PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
The windmills have changed through the history; they were first used for grinding grains in farms. The turbines work just the opposite of a fan and produce electricity taking advantage of the natural energy of the wind to drive a generator.
This kind of technology is one of the most cheapest with a high volume of electricity production and it is expected that 1.2 million of people worldwide will work in this branch by 2020. New advances become known every day regarding this source of energy that evolves in new prototypes and locations that make it more efficient and competitive. Off-shore and aerial wind turbines and some other innovations prove its sustainability.
"Geophysical and seismic investigations were developed as well as an analysis of the morphology of the terrain to verify its firmness. We did induced work, and a study of the location of the generators in La Herradura-1. We determined its exact location. The study of La Herradura-2 is almost done. Besides, we found a well whose water has the characteristics needed to melt the concrete".
Denmark, China, USA, Spain, and Germany hoard the 90 percent the sector's global supply. The demand is dynamic and changing because it is strongly related with the policy that each country is adopting for the use of renewable energy. China, USA, and Brazil are among the main markets.
The European Observatory of Renewable Energies declared in its annual balance that more than a half million megawatts were produced in 2017 by the global wind farm. According to this agency of the European Commission, there were 539, 2 MGWs installed in the world by the end of March of the current year. According the First Global Council of Wind Energy, this technology is the most competitive in the context of new technology for the production of energy and its prices will fall significantly in the upcoming decades.
In spite of being a developing country, Cuba also bets on the use of clean energies (FRE). According to Alfredo López Valdés, minister of Energy and Mines, the program devised for the fulfillment of such objectives is focused on producing 7,300 GW/h every year with these sources and replace 1, 75 million tons of fuel in 12 month. Moreover, the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will decrease in six million tons.
López also said that the wind power will represent the six percent of the national supply in this area, with 633 megawatts. It is expected the construction of 14 wind farms to achieve this goal. Three of them will be budgeted by the government: La Herradura-1 and La Herradura-2, funded by China; and Río Seco-1, in Holguín, with funding from India.
The construction of other 11 wind farms will be carried out through foreign investments: four in Maisí, Guantánamo (Punta Fraile I y II, and Punta Quemado I and II); five in Holguín (Gibara III, Los Jagüeyes, Río Seco II, Cabo Lucrecia and Punta de Mulas); one in Manatí (Las Tunas) and another one in Camagüey (Playa Piloto).
These facilities will be under national control once the foreign investors recover their investment and obtain their profits. Meanwhile, the energy produced will be bought.
PROFITABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY: A GREAT BENEFIT
It is expected that a circuit of La Herradura-1 may start working and generating electricity by the beginning of 2019. However, the specialists from Las Tunas said that the final schedule might change because it is subject to complex logistical process.
Experts estimate that La Herradura-1 will produce 134, 5 GW/h every year which implies the saving of more than 37, 600 tons of fuel and a reduction of 116,332 tons in the emission of CO2 to the atmosphere. La Herradura-2 will produce 146, 38 GW/h every year and will save 40,098 tons of fuel, which means the elimination of 126,056 tons of CO2.
The implementation of these projects marks a new stage in the development of this renewable source of energy in Cuba after windmills and experimental parks served to generate electricity on a small scale, as well as to pump water, irrigate crops and quench the thirst of cattle.
This technology will contribute to the project of changing the national energy matrix aimed at eliminate dependence on fossil fuels and, at the same time, reduce the pollution load. Progress in this respect is possible due to the political will of the government and the qualification of the labor force created by the Cuban Revolution.